There’s no such thing as an easy cure.
Do you forever feel like you’re tired? Perhaps you feel like the weight of the world sits on your shoulders because they’re so darn tight? Maybe, just maybe, you’re a habitual teeth grinder – in your sleep, of course.
Listen up, lady, because all these things have something in common – and it’s not stress. In fact, it’s the way in which you breathe. According to experts, not getting enough oxygen can contribute to a plethora of health problems including asthma and lung disease. What’s interesting is that even though the area our lung tissue would cover if spread out is the size of tennis court, we only use about a third of our lungs, reports Healthista.
In the short-term, this makes breathing “harder for our bodies than it needs to be,” physiotherapist Lizzie Flude told the wellness website, and in the long-term can lead to a host of everyday issues. “Over time, it can lead to chronic tiredness, slumped shoulders and a habitually tense back, neck and shoulders as the rest of the body tries to aid the lungs in getting more air in,” she said.
So, how do you know that you’re not breathing correctly? If you display one or more of the following symptoms, Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, a psychophysiologist at Capio Nightingale Hospital told Healthista, it’s an indication that you’ve got it wrong.
Sighing more than usual
Cause – Habitually holding breath.
Apparently if you’re consistently deep sighing, your body is instinctively trying to make up for the lack of oxygen that holding the breath leads to.
Cause – Shallow breathing.
Sure, you could well be tired if you’re yawning more than usual, but you could also be breathing incorrectly. When we’re relaxed, Ramlakhan said that we take about five to eight breaths a minute, however a shallow breather can take anything from 10 to 20, with most being from the chest.
Grinding your teeth
Cause – Stress and shallow breathing.
According to the psychophysiologist, shallow breathing and teeth grinding are both symptoms of stress. “In about 40 per cent of the chronically stressed or mentally ill people I see, tooth grinding and breathing inefficiently go hand in hand,” she said.
Tight neck and shoulder
Cause – Chest breathing.
If muscle tightness around the neck and shoulders isn’t related to recent exercise or injury, apparently your breathing could be to blame. Ramlakhan explained: “When you breathe only into your chest, the muscles in the neck, shoulders and back will attempt to ‘chip in’ and help the body breathe deeper so the lungs get more air.”
Always feeling tired
Cause – Inefficient breathing.
Did you know that one of the theories behind chronic fatigue syndrome is incorrect breathing? Yep, “if people breathe inefficiently they use as little as 20 per cent of their lung capacity leaving other muscles such as the back, neck and shoulders making more effort to fill the lungs,” said Ramlakhan.
What’s more, breathing incorrectly means that you aren’t getting enough of one of the three essentials needed for energy – oxygen, food and water, she continued.
How to breathe easy
Healthista recommends that you follow these exercises three times a week for three weeks if you want to change your breathing technique. The aim of the exercises is to breathe deeply and slowly, and in and out through your nose. Also, your breath should come from your diaphragm, not your chest. Before starting the exercises, make sure you’re sitting on a chair or lying on the floor and remember to keep your body warm to relax the respiratory muscles.
Notice your breathing
Close your eyes, bring your attention inwards and pay attention to the movement of your chest, shoulders and belly while you breathe. Notice where your breathing is coming from.
Open your breathing
Straighten your torso, roll your shoulders back and relax your body ensuring that your tongue is on the roof of your mouth – surprisingly, we hold a lot of tension in our mouths. If you are sitting, make sure your chin is parallel to the floor.
Deepen your breathing
The purpose of this is to breathe more fully and deeply. Upon breathing out, prolong your exhalation by a few seconds by pulling your stomach in towards your spine. Remember to keep your shoulders relaxed at all times.
Slow down your breathing
After each inhalation and exhalation, pause for a second or two before starting again. This will help to slow and deepen your breathing.
Images via andreabeaman.com
We all know that feeling in the morning when the alarm goes off and it seems like the hardest thing in the world to get up. After our morning coffee/tea/juice, we usually feel better. However, if that feeling of being tired and exhausted becomes constant and it seems as though nothing can make you feel better, it’s time to make some lifestyle changes.
The most obvious reason why you’re always tired is of course, lack of sleep. Research shows that people who get at least seven hours of sleep every night are much better at concentrating and are less moody than people who sleep say, six hours. So if you’ve been getting less than seven hours of sleep at night, this is the first and most important change that needs to happen: Go to bed earlier.
The second most likely reason why you’re tired is because you’re dehydrated. If you drink less than two litres of water per day, your blood will thicken and your heart will have to work harder. This results in fatigue, so make sure you keep on top of your water intake.
The third factor when it comes to tiredness is exercise. As absurd as it sounds, moving – even though it requires energy – will give you more energy in return. It’s for this reason that we feel so amazing after a workout, while sitting all day makes you feel exhausted even though you haven’t moved a finger.
If you are sleeping enough, drinking enough water, and exercising regularly but still can’t shake the fatigue, talk to your GP. A blood test might reveal a thyroid problem or an iron deficiency – both can easily be treated through medication and dietary changes.
Do you need an energy boost right now? Take a quick power nap! Just 30 minutes can help you restore your energy levels. Alternatively, get up from your chair and walk around the block making sure you take deep breaths in order to optimise oxygen levels in your blood.
Image via doghumor.net
Getting good sleep is important for your health, happiness and productivity, but it’s not always an easy task to do. Isn’t it frustrating when you decide to take charge of your daily routine and go to bed early, only to find yourself tossing and turning for hours after that? While frustration doesn’t help (if anything, it’ll make you stay awake longer), here some things that do.
1. Turn off screens an hour or two before bed time.
The blue light from our devices suppresses the sleep hormone melatonin and tricks our minds into believing that it’s still day time.
2. Avoid caffeine in the second half of the day.
It takes 5-7 hours for half of the caffeine to leave your body. It takes even longer to eliminate all the caffeine from your system, so if you have a cup of coffee in the afternoon or at night, it can affect your sleep.
3. Read a non-fiction book.
Do you love reading before bed? A good fiction book can easily keep you awake all night. Change it to non-fiction and notice your eyes starting to close only a few minutes later.
4. Listen to a podcast or meditation.
Meditation can help you relax, but if you find your mind wandering back to your worries too often, listening to a podcast can be a better idea. If it’s engaging enough, it will distract you from your own thoughts just enough to help you drift off to sleep.
5. Count your blessings.
Research has found that having a gratitude practice helps get more sleep and better quality of sleep. If you practice counting your blessings at bed time, it can also help you fall asleep faster. Instead of counting sheep, challenge yourself to find ten things in your day that you’re grateful for. Don’t be surprised if you’re asleep long before you get to ten!
Image by AlexVan via pixabay.com
Excess amounts of alcohol can interfere with your sleeping patterns, which in turn affects your well-being.
Eat foods rich in Vitamin B
Try to eat loads of fruit and vegetables, wheat germ, seeds, nuts, whole grain, fish and dairy produce. Vitamin B is required for the production of energy.
Eating large meals
If you pig out at lunch time and then at dinner you will feel relatively drained afterwards. To prevent this from happening, the experts recommend eating small meals often.
Okay, you’re in the office. It’s only 2pm and your energy levels are at an all time low. Concoct your own drink to zap those blues. Mix one banana, one mango (if in season), half a medium-sized pineapple, 150ml milk or a small carton of plain low-fat yoghurt and one teaspoon of honey in a blender. The great thing about this drink is a banana is a far better source of energy than a bar of a chocolate.