Our breathing rate is designed to help us survive in times of stress and escape danger -
- and then to rest .......
but, are we are upsetting the balance between damage and repair that nature intended?
Fight or Flight
Our breathing becomes fast and shallow:
our heart rate increases to pump blood to our muscles - ready for action! Our blood pressure increases ..... we become tense and hypervigilent. Stress hormomes, especially adrenaline - and in the longer term, cortisol - stream through our body and unconsciously we become only concerned with survival NOW. Everything else not required for survival is shut down (depending on the degree of stress): immunity, reproduction, digestion, emotion processing and complex decision making. Thats why we are not logical when we are very stressed, why we can't concentrate or make good decisions, why our tummy's play up - remember the "butterflies" or even nausea (or worse!) before an important exam or speech? We may develop temporary reproductive issues (missed ovulation or erectile dysfunction for example).
Healing and Repairing
Our breathing becomes deep and slow:
Our heart rate slows. Resting, relaxing and sleeping become a priority. We all know the "aaaaaah!" factor, and it is very important for healing the damage done while in Fight or Flight. Our mind calms, our appetite returns, we reboot our immune system, we re-engage our conscious mind, experience the feel good endorphines and our bodies undergo repair....
We are not designed to be
constantly in "Fight or Flight"
Our modern lifestyles with artificial stressors, electronic devices, and our constant ignoring of life's rhythms are proving too much of a challenge for many of us, and the result is devastating for our health....
We need to become more mindful of our stressors - your brain does not know the difference between the stress of an attacking tribe and the five o'clock deadline on your overdue report! Sit down on the park bench in the sun - be aware of the beauty around you .... take 5, and breathe!