How To Breathe For More Energy And To Reduce Stress

Have we been conditioned? Have we been influenced to grab that cup of coffee, and/or energy drink? I know I certainly have many times. How many times have you seen this play out on TV or in a movie? The character going for the coffee in the moments where they need that extra boost. 

Is that a bad thing? I don’t think so, I’m not here to tell you not to drink coffee! There are many healthful benefits to consuming coffee but maybe there is an alternative method, an alternative way to nourish your brain and body.

You have a plumbing system in your body! That plumbing system is your lymphatic system. It is the organ system that is both part of the circulatory system and the immune system. Your lymphatic system is a major network consisting of vessels and lymph nodes.4 The lymphatic system plays two important functions: maintains body-fluid homeostasis, and immune function (immune cell transport and lipid transport). As mentioned, one of the main functions of your lymphatic system is immune defense. Your lymph fluid contains waste products, bacteria, fat, proteins, damaged cells and debris.1

Unlike your circulatory system your plumbing system doesn’t have a central pump! Your lymphatic system does not have a lymph heart (unless you are one of the reptilian species that do). This means you don’t have an involuntary way to move the lymph fluid. Your lymph fluid is moved by muscular movements and deep breathing exercises.2 If your lymphatic system were to shut down, you would be dead within 24 hours!!3

The health of your body is only as healthy as the cells that make it up.

There are substantial evidences that the lymphatic system is intimately involved in and highly altered during inflammatory diseases4

What’s causing your plumbing system to clog? 

  1. Chronic stress- it can lead to hormonal and biochemical changes. It has even been shown that chronic stress can remodel the lymph vasculature (the study was in mice, so we can’t necessarily extrapolate that to humans)5
  2. Lack of a wholesome, and nourishing diet- consuming an unhealthy diet (i.e. standard American diet) can lead to hormonal and biochemical imbalances which can lead to chronic disease. 

Breathing exercises

The air you breathe contains the main source of energy (oxygen) for every cell in your body. Getting control of your breathing through breathing exercise (discussed below) has a variety of health benefits:

  • Reduces your stress6
  • Regulates your blood pressure7
  • Improves your mood 
  • Improves your immune system and improves your energy8

Outlined below are some breathing exercising to help reduce your stress and boost your energy: 

  1. The 4-7-8 breathing9
    1. Breath in through your nose slowly for a count of 4
    1. Hold for a count of 7
    1. Breath out through your mouth for a count of 8 
  2. The Whim Hoff Method (WHF)10
    1. More involved as it includes three practices 
      1. Breathing exercise 
      1. Cold therapy exposure 
      1. Focus/concentration (mindset) 

Explore one of these or both and notice the difference in how you feel as a result of changing the way you are breathing! Change your physiology to change how you are feeling! 

References:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lymphatic_system
  2.  Hedrick, Michael S.; Hillman, Stanley S.; Drewes, Robert C.; Withers, Philip C. (1 July 2013). “Lymphatic regulation in nonmammalian vertebrates”. Journal of Applied Physiology. 115 (3): 297–308. doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.00201.2013
  3. Guyton and Hall Textbook of Medical Physiology. Saunders. 2010. pp. 186, 187. ISBN 978-1416045748.
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2965625/
  5. https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms10634
  6. https://science.sciencemag.org/content/355/6332/1411
  7. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/01.hyp.0000179581.68566.7d
  8. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0062817
  9. https://www.livestrong.com/article/149332-4-7-8-breathing-exercises/
  10. https://www.wimhofmethod.com
  11. Image Credit: Photo by Hal Gatewood on Unsplash

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