You will have heard me talk a lot about stress. Health, or lack of it, is all based around physical, chemical, and emotional stress, or as the early chiropractors used to say, the three T’s Trauma, Toxins and Thoughts.
Over the festive period we are often exposed to more stress than at any other time of the year! Be that spending longer sitting around wrapping presents, drinking a little more than maybe we normally would, or spending just a few more hours with great aunt and uncle…. than we maybe would choose to!
Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, stress is unavoidable and in fact in many circumstances can be of benefit. Some of mankind’s greatest achievements have come when we are placed in stressful situations.
So why at times does our body thrive in stressful situations, and other times fail? What is more important to ask is not what stress am I under but how well is my body able to adapt to it.
To measure how well your body adapts to stress, scientists have developed Heart Rate Variability testing.
You see, your heart rate is more than just the number of beats per minute, it is also the timing between the beats, the length of each beat, the strength of the beat, and more. All this variation in the beating heart is really important for good health. Being able to increase your heart rate to run and decrease your heart rate to heal is a simple example of the importance of variation.
So, the more variation we have in our heart rate, the more we can adapt, therefore the better we cope with stress.
Here is a simple exercise to help improve your Heart Rate Variability. Your breathing and your heart rate are linked, so, working on your breathing can have a strong beneficial link to heart rate variability.
Try this simple exercise and see how you improve
-Take 5 minutes to yourself without any distraction. - Lie comfortably on the floor. - Place one hand on your chest and one hand on your lower tummy. - Close your eyes. - Breathe in for the count of 6. - Hold your breath for the count of 4. - Breathe out for the count of 6. - Hold your breath for the count of 4. - Breathe in again and repeat this cycle.
Be sure to feel your tummy rise as you breathe in and try to ensure that your shoulders and chest to stay still. For many of us “belly breathing” will feel unnatural but watch any baby breathe and see this is how we are intended to breathe.
So as the world around us may start to get a little hectic, give yourself the time to relax.