The pandemic has certainly brought to light that children today have reportedly high stress levels. To help them take a break, Intermountain Health encourages both parents and teachers to teach mindfulness practices to children.

“The basic idea of mindfulness is to recognize people are distracted, and their minds are all over the place, all day long. The goal is to train parents and children to pay attention more often to what is going on in the present moment, instead of ruminating about the past, or worrying about the future,” said Katrina Jensen, a pediatric nurse with Intermountain Health.

“Mindfulness is like living life in real time and seeing things as they are and with a sense of openness and compassion,” she added.

Psychological and physical benefits of mindfulness

Mindfulness meditation is gaining a foothold in disease prevention and treatment. A number of studies in school settings have shown mindfulness improved attention and behavior.

Research has shown mindfulness has benefits for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, depression, school performance, sleep, behavior problems, eating disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder.

There are also physical benefits from mindfulness, as it calms the nervous system and decreases stress hormones. Studies have shown benefits for gastrointestinal symptoms, obesity, headaches, high blood pressure, pain sensitivity, and immune function.

“The simple act of teaching children how to stop, focus, and just breathe could be one of the greatest gifts to give a child,” said Jensen.

Ways to incorporate mindfulness into a child’s day

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a few simple ways to teach mindfulness.

  • Try incorporating deep breathing into a child’s daily bedtime routine—it can help them wind down for the night and gets them in the practice of using mindfulness when other situations arise.
  • Belly breathing is a good way to help children be mindful. Have them place their hands on their belly and then take deep slow breaths in and up, and then as they begin to exhale they can focus on pushing the air out into their belly and extend their hands outward.
  • As young children learn to manage strong emotions, deep breathing can be part of the process— especially before and after time outs.
  • Remind grade schoolers to take a few deep breaths before answering a difficult question at school, taking a test, or before an athletic performance.

There are multiple ways to learn different practices of mindfulness and meditation. There are books, audio recordings, videos, online training, websites, and even smartphone apps to help children meditate. Help children find one that helps them enjoy a calmer body, mind and spirit.

Recommendations for length and frequency of mindfulness meditation

Suggestions from pediatricians about how often and how long to practice mindful meditation at various ages are as follows:

  • Preschool children: A few minutes per day.
  • Grade school children: 3-10 minutes twice a day.
  • Teens and adults: 5-45 minutes per day or more based on preference.

For more information on mindfulness or to find a pediatrician visit: intermountainhealthcare.org

About Intermountain Health

Headquartered in Utah with locations in seven states and additional operations across the western U.S., Intermountain Health is a nonprofit system of 33 hospitals, 385 clinics, medical groups with some 3,900 employed physicians and advanced care providers, a health plans division called SelectHealth with more than one million members, and other health services. Helping people live the healthiest lives possible, Intermountain is committed to improving community health and is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes at sustainable costs.

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Being healthy has many benefits, including giving you the energy you need to get through even the most challenging days. Health is wealth. However, given our hectic schedules, the majority of us find it difficult to spend hours at the gym, consult with a dietitian, or browse through innumerable health-related articles online.

What to do? Look for hacks! Hacks are shortcuts that make getting to our destination a bit less overwhelming.Hack your way to better health with these five clever tricks that will save you time, money, and a headache while keeping you healthy.

  1. Breathe into your belly

It's understandable for you to assume that you understand how to breathe. However, the majority of us only take in enough oxygen to maintain our health by taking in shallow breaths. Diaphragmatic breathing, or deep belly breathing, can lower blood pressure, slow the ageing process, increase mental clarity, and enhance sleep quality with just 5 to 10 minutes each day. Lay on your back, close your eyes, focus on the positive, and take several long, deep breaths into your belly. To improve concentration, place a relatively heavy object on your abdomen, such as a kettlebell or an encyclopedia, and pay attention to how it rises and falls with each breath.

  1. Use yoga to heal headaches

Inversional yoga positions, in which your head is below your heart, can help relieve tension headaches that just won't go away. Downward-facing dog, child's pose, and legs up the wall are some yoga poses that can help with headaches. These positions can increase circulation, relax you, and stretch out tight neck and shoulder muscles, all of which might hasten the onset of your headache.

  1. Make your bath relaxing with Epson salt

You can increase your level of relaxation by adding some Epsom salts to your bath. Magnesium, which is present in Epsom salts, helps to calm your body naturally and ease aching muscles. They are inexpensive and offer relief from insomnia, anxiety, and other conditions.

  1. Do the skin pinch test to see if you are dehydrated

One fast approach to determine whether you're losing more fluid than you're consuming is to pinch your skin. According to studies, becoming dehydrated is more likely when it's cold outside since people don't feel as thirsty even though they're still losing fluids. Simply squeeze the skin on one of your finger knuckles for about 3 seconds, then release the pressure. The skin will quickly return to its original position if you are well-hydrated. The skin, however, loses its flexibility when dehydrated and will appear pinched for a brief period of time.

  1. Stimulate your brain

By the time you are 45, the cerebral cortex of your brain will be losing 50,000 cells per day. However, keeping your mind active can help to maintain cognitive function. So, whether it's completing a Sudoku puzzle, memory game, quiz, or starting something more difficult like learning a new language, make sure to constantly present your brain with new challenges. Again, there are a ton of fantastic online trivia games and apps that can keep your mind occupied even when your body is taking a break.

 

 



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Breathing Techniques

By Aditya Jaykumar Iyer

According to Stress.org, 83% of US workers suffer from work-related stress. About one million Americans miss work each day because of stress. 76% of US workers report that workplace stress affects their personal relationships.

It is no secret then that stress is one the leading causes of Corporate America’s health problems.

Stress is especially detrimental to senior executives and leaders who often have high-pressure jobs, looming deadlines, limited resources, and little time for themselves. In times like these, we habitually resort to shallow breathing, which increases are cortisol levels and makes us feel stressed out.

Luckily, several breathing exercises can help reduce executive stress and avoid burnout.

Organizations have invited me on numerous occasions to conduct breathwork workshops on managing stress, and it’s always fascinating to hear about the relief practitioners feel after just 10-15 minutes of practice.

Breathwork has undoubtedly taken the post-pandemic wellness world by storm due to the numerous scientific benefits associated! 

This article will explore five powerful breathing techniques that regulate the nervous system and reduce stress levels. Read on to discover practical tools to help you amid uncertainty or strain.

Breath of Fire Breathing (Breathing for Energy and Alertness):

Coffee is a popular morning drink for many senior executives.

The coffee bean contains caffeine, a stimulant that can help increase alertness and energy levels. However, coffee can also cause side effects such as jitteriness and anxiety, leading to a crash when the effects wear off.

Too much coffee can lead to fatigue and impaired decision-making, while the absence of coffee can leave you feeling groggy and unfocused. Does that sound familiar?

What if a breathing technique can replace or complement your cup of coffee?

Kapalabhati is a powerful yet simple breathing technique that is said to heal, cleanse, and energize the body. Practicing this technique also helps massage the internal organs and improve lung capacity.

Kapalabhati is an excellent way to energize the body and clear the mind when feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Moreover, it purifies the blood, boosts the immune system, and increases your energy levels within minutes.

It is a great way to start your day or use it as a break during the workday.

  1. Sit with your spine straight and your eyes closed.
  2. Place your hands on your stomach, just below your navel.
  3. Exhale entirely through your nose, then inhale deeply through your nose.
  4. As you exhale, pull your stomach in so your navel is pulled toward your spine.
  5. Repeat this process for 10-15 minutes.

Diaphragmatic Breathing (Breathing for Sleep):

Work-related stress and economic uncertainty can make it difficult to fall asleep. 

This inability to fall asleep can be frustrating and have consequences for the next day.

Often, people turn to sleep pills or medication to help them fall asleep, but these are not sustainable solutions in the long term.

Diaphragmatic breathing, or belly breathing, is a deep breathing exercise to reduce stress, stabilize blood pressure, and calm anxiety levels.

The diaphragm is a large, dome-shaped muscle below the lungs, which contracts when you inhale and relaxes as you exhale. As babies, we intuitively breathe diaphragmatically, but as we get older, we develop a rather unhealthy habit of ‘chest breathing‘, which keeps us in a fight-or-flight state. 

The diaphragmatic breathing technique strengthens your diaphragm and promotes full oxygen exchange. 

It’s easy to learn, and it only takes a few deep breaths to feel the difference

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Place one hand on your stomach and the other hand on your chest.
  3. Take a slow deep breath through your nose, counting to 4 as you inhale.
  4. Hold your breath for a count of 4.
  5. Practice slow pursed lip breathing as you exhale and count to 8.
  6. Repeat this process for 10-15 minutes.

Alternative Nostril Breathing (Breathing for Problem Solving and Creativity):

Executive leaders are under constant pressure to find solutions to problems.

Whether it’s coming up with a strategy for dealing with a problematic competitor, figuring out how to streamline operations, or resolving a conflict among team members, problem-solving is essential for success.

Leaders need to be able to think clearly and creatively, and that’s where our next breathwork technique comes in.

Nadi Shodhana, or “alternative nostril breathing,” is an effective yogic breathing technique that can harmonize your nervous system and optimize brain function for enhanced problem-solving.

The key to understanding the efficacy of this technique is knowing about the ‘nasal cycle’. We typically breathe through one nostril more than the other throughout the day.

This nasal switch happens every 90 to 120 minutes and seems to be controlled by the CNS (Central Nervous System).

When the right nostril is more congested, we breathe more through the left nostril, known as left nostril dominance. This phase is associated with the ‘rest and digest’ mode when the body is generally more relaxed, and the heart rate lowered.

On the other hand, when the left nostril is more congested, we breathe more through the right nostril, which is known as right nostril dominance. This phase is associated with the ‘fight or flight’ mode, when the body is more alert and the heart rate is elevated.

What’s fascinating is that when your left nostril is dominant, the EEG activity is more significant in the right hemisphere of your brain and vice versa. In other words, each brain hemisphere controls the opposite side of the body.

Practicing the alternate nostril breathing exercise is believed to balance the brain’s two hemispheres and reduce mental fatigue, which tends to obstruct decision-making.

Here’s a simple way to perform this breathing exercise:

  1. Sit with your spine straight and your eyes closed.
  2. Place one hand on your stomach, just below your navel.
  3. Close off your left nostril with your thumb and inhale deeply through your right nostril.
  4. Pause for a moment, then close off your right nostril with your index finger and exhale slowly through your left nostril.
  5. Now, pause for a moment and inhale fully through your left nostril.
  6. Close off your left nostril with your thumb and exhale slowly through your right nostril.
  7. Repeat this process for 10-15 minutes.

Heart Coherence breathing (Breathing For Accessing Intuition):

Intuition is a powerful tool that can help senior executives make better decisions.

Research shows that intuition plays a vital role in decision-making and can be more effective than rational thinking.

Intuition results from years of experience and learning, allowing executives to process information quickly and develop strategic solutions to complex problems.

Stress and anxiety activate our fight or flight response, which impairs our ability to access our intuitive abilities and make gut-based decisions. 

According to some research, the key to harnessing intuition may lie in achieving Heart Coherence.

What is Heart Coherence

According to the HeartMath institute, Heart Coherence is a physiological state when our body’s systems, breathing, heart rhythms, brain rhythms, and hormonal response are in sync with each other.

This state of harmony, balance, and flow is most conducive to spontaneous, intuitive hits and eureka moments.

Heart coherence breathing is a method that can help you access this physiological state of balance with some practice.

  1. Sit with your spine straight and your eyes closed.
  2. Focus your attention on your heart and think about something or someone you genuinely appreciate.
  3. Imagine your breath flowing in and out of your heart.
  4. Inhale slowly through your nose and count to 5.
  5. Exhale slowly through your mouth and count to 5.
  6. As you exhale, visualize sending positive vibrations from the center of your heart toward those you appreciate.
  7. Repeat this process for 10-15 minutes.

Chanting breath (Breathing for Harmony):

Omkar breath, or humming breath, is a type of yogic breathing exercise that is said to have numerous scientifically proven benefits for the mind and body.

If you’re feeling stressed or burned out in the middle of the day, a few minutes of this breathing exercise will help activate your parasympathetic nervous system and make you feel calm and centered. Avoid practicing this technique while driving or operating heavy machinery because this technique can make you feel tired and relaxed!

Here are a few reasons why this technique is so powerful:

Vagus Nerve Stimulation:

Humming and chanting create a harmonious vibration that stimulates the vagus nerve, the longest cranial nerve in the human body. This nerve runs from the brain to the large intestine and plays a crucial role in activating the rest and digest mode.

Long Exhales:

You activate the sympathetic nervous system when you inhale, and you start the parasympathetic nervous system when you exhale. By exhaling for longer than you inhale, you turn on the parasympathetic nervous system, further amplifying the relaxation response.

Brain stimulation:

Chanting also sends calming signals to the Limbic brain (amygdala, anterior cingulate gyrus, hippocampus, insula, orbitofrontal cortex, parahippocampal gyrus, and thalamus), calming the overactive mind and promoting deep relaxation.

According to one study by researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences in India, limbic deactivation during Om chanting is very similar to those observed during vagus nerve stimulation in depression and epilepsy.

While more research is certainly warranted, these results point to a potential role for adopting the non-invasive ‘Om’ chanting in clinical practice!

  • Sit with your spine straight and your eyes closed.
  • Place one hand on your stomach, just below your navel, and the other on your chest.
  • Inhale deeply through your nose, focusing on filling your lungs with air.
  • As you exhale, count to 12 and chant the sound of ‘Om’
  • Repeat this process for 10-15 minutes

Wrapping Up

It’s important to remember that not all forms of stress are harmful. Some stress, such as ‘hormetic stress’, your body’s health stress response, can benefit our health and well-being.

It is when we experience chronic stress that it becomes a problem.

If you find yourself struggling with chronic stress as a corporate leader, several breathing techniques can help naturally reduce executive stress and avoid burnout.

The breathing exercises discussed in this article include the breath of fire, diaphragmatic breathing, alternative nostril breathing, heart coherence breathing, and chanting breath. Experiment with these techniques and add a few of them to your self-care tool kit.

Do you have a favorite breathing technique? Let us know in the comments below!

About the Author

Aditya Jaykumar Iyer (AJ) is a certified Breathwork instructor and the host & founder of the My Seven Chakras podcast and blog with over 6.8 million downloads. 

Aditya has spent the last 8 years conducting interviews with over 500 of the foremost wellness experts and has documented his learnings & discoveries on his blog. You can connect with him on Instagram at @mysevenchakras.

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Moderna announced positive results Tuesday from its phase 3 trial of an RSV vaccine for older adults, revealing plans to submit the vaccine for regulatory approval, which includes review by the US Food and Drug Administration, in the first half of 2023. 

There's no approved vaccine for RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, which can be more severe in older adults as well as in very young children. Moderna isn't the only vaccine-maker on the trail of the sought-after vaccine, however: GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer all have vaccines in the works. The FDA is already reviewing Pfizer's vaccine for older adults as well as GSK's

Older adults aren't the only group impacted by RSV. Very young children have been at the center of this winter's unusually severe RSV surge, which is now seeing cases climbing down from a steep peak. Pfizer also has a maternal vaccine in the race, which would be given to parents-to-be in the later stages of pregnancy to protect babies against severe RSV in the first few months of life. Such a vaccine would be welcome after this year.

"It appears that the circulation of (RSV) came earlier than is usual, and the number of cases is more than is typical," Dr. Mary T. Caserta, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Infectious Diseases, said in a Nov. 17 report from the AAP. "There's been a dramatic increase in the number of cases and the number of hospitalizations."

A chart of RSV infections in the US

A CDC chart showing an early and steep spike of RSV infections across age groups. From 2009 through 2019, RSV was the leading cause of hospitalizations in babies under a year old, according to a study published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases. 


US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

RSV is a common virus -- most kids will have it before their second birthday. And though anyone can come down with RSV, babies, children under age 5, older adults and people who are immunocompromised are especially vulnerable to severe illness, which can cause pneumonia or bronchitis and require hospitalization. Because of this, it may be necessary (though sometimes awkward) to take some simple preventative measures when it comes to other people holding or being around your child. 

Here's what to know.

Is that a 'COVID cough' or RSV? 

Coughing is a common symptom of many respiratory viruses, including RSV, COVID-19 and the flu. So how can you tell what's causing your child's cough?

"From a clinical standpoint, it's difficult to determine how coughs might be different," Dr. Syeda Amna Husain, a pediatrician based in New Jersey, said in an email. RSV, COVID-19 and the flu all have the potential to cause bronchiolitis-like (lung infection) symptoms in children, which can make it difficult for them to move their lungs in order to let air in, Husain says. 

Testing is the only sure way to know which virus is responsible, according to Husain, and that may also narrow down some treatment options.

What is RSV? How is it spread? 

Respiratory syncytial virus is a common respiratory virus, which means it's spread to others through tiny droplets from the nose or throat of an infected person. You get it when these droplets get into your eyes, nose or throat, either through contact with someone who's sick, or by touching a contaminated surface then touching your eyes, nose or mouth. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the virus lives on hard surfaces (like cribs) for hours. RSV doesn't live quite as long on soft surfaces, like skin or tissues. According to the CDC, it is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in babies under age 1. 

Can adults catch RSV from kids? 

Yes. Children commonly get RSV at school or day care and bring it home to other family members. Most adults, however, will either have mild or no symptoms of RSV. 

Some adults, including older adults, folks with compromised immune systems or adults with lung or heart issues may have more severe illness or complications. 

What are the symptoms in children and babies?

Symptoms usually show up around four to six days after getting infected or exposed, per the CDC. Common signs include: 

  • Runny nose 
  • Sneezing
  • Decreased appetite 
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Fever

In very young infants or babies, however, the only symptoms may be irritability and fussiness; decreased activity or acting more tired than normal; or troubled breathing, including pauses in breathing.

A 3-year-old child coughs while their mother takes their temperature

Filadendron/Getty Images

How to avoid RSV 

Because RSV is a respiratory virus, a lot of the same health precautions we take for other viruses will cut down the risk of you or your child getting it. This includes avoiding contact with people who are sick or have symptoms, avoiding crowded indoor places, and washing your hands before eating or touching your face. 

For babies and younger kids, prevention could extend to not allowing other people to kiss, hold or touch your baby if you're concerned about contracting the virus. (You can also ask them to wash their hands and wear a mask when holding your baby.) Ideally, the CDC says that people with any cold-like symptoms should avoid being around children at higher risk for RSV. 

How about minimizing the risk of RSV in a child who's active and tends to have their hands and toys everywhere? 

"Try to keep your child's hands away from their face, especially the nose and mouth," Husain said, as this is a fast way for common infectious particles to spread. You can also disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched, like toys, counter surfaces and door handles.

Signs you should take your child to the hospital 

Signs you should call your doctor or get medical care immediately, according to the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics, include:

  • Fast breathing or wheezing
  • Breathing with flared nostrils or "head bobbing" with each breath 
  • Tugging or belly breathing, as shown in a video on the AAP's page (it might look like the rib cage is caving in)
  • Your child can't drink or has symptoms of dehydration (fewer than one wet diaper every eight hours)
  • Your child's lips, skin or tongue are a grayish or blue color

Very young infants (under six months), babies who were born premature, and children who have weakened immune systems, neuromuscular disorders (trouble swallowing or clearing mucus) as well as other health problems have a greater risk of severe illness from RSV. If your child has only mild symptoms, extra treatment probably won't be necessary outside of your home. But according to The Cleveland Clinic, your child may need to receive intravenous fluids (have an IV) if their rapid breathing is preventing them from drinking and staying hydrated. According to the clinic, about 3% of children with RSV will require a hospital stay, and most will be able to go home within two to three days. 

If you're an older adult, are immunocompromised or have an underlying health condition, you may also be at higher risk of severe disease from RSV. In fact, older adults have a higher burden of death from RSV. According to CDC surveillance, RSV is expected to cause at least 6,000-10,000 deaths in adults 65 and older, compared to 100 to 300 deaths in children younger than 5, each year in the US.

If you or anyone around you is having a hard time breathing, always seek emergency care or medical care right away.

Treatments for RSV

RSV is a viral infection, which means antibiotics won't work. Treatment for RSV is typically supportive, and over-the-counter medications (but never aspirin for children) may help relieve common symptoms like cough or congestion. You should consult your doctor before giving your child any drug, even non-prescription, because not all medication ingredients are safe for children and their smaller, growing bodies. 

High-risk children that are severely ill are sometimes treated with an antiviral Ribavirin and intravenous immunoglobulin. Treatment may also be considered for severely ill immunocompromised adults. The vast majority of patients do not require these interventions. 

For high-risk infants and children, preventative strategies are available; there is a monoclonal antibody available called palivizumab. It's given in monthly injections during RSV season and meant for children who are at higher risk of being hospitalized. Some eligible children would be babies who were born very premature (before 29 weeks) and young children who are immunocompromised or have other health conditions, like heart disease or neuromuscular conditions. In November, the AAP updated its guidance and suggested doctors consider giving high-risk patients more than five consecutive doses of palivizumab. 

If you believe your child is at high risk and might be eligible for the treatment, reach out to your doctor.

Is there a vaccine?

There isn't yet a vaccine for RSV, but scientists are working on it. Pfizer announced promising results in November from its global trial, which found that its RSV vaccine, when given to pregnant people, was about 82% effective at preventing severe disease in their babies following birth, during the first three months of life. It was about 69% effective during the child's first six months of life. 

Vaccine candidates for older adults include Moderna's vaccine, which was tested in adults 60 and older, a similarly effective vaccine from GlaxoSmithKline, and another one from Pfizer. Decisions from the FDA on GSK's and Pfizer's vaccines could come in May 2023. Johnson & Johnson has also started international trials of its vaccine in older adults.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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Introduction

Shaky hands exercise is a condition where your hands shake uncontrollably. It can be caused by a variety of factors, such as stress, anxiety, low blood sugar, or even Parkinson’s disease. There are several ways to help reduce and manage this condition, including practicing mindful breathing, exercising regularly, staying hydrated, avoiding caffeine, and taking supplements. In addition, there are various relaxation techniques that can also be used to help reduce the symptoms associated with shaky hands.

Practice Mindful Breathing

Mindful breathing is a great way to help reduce the symptoms of shaky hands. It involves focusing on your breathing and being aware of the present moment. By doing this, you can help reduce the tension in your body and relax your mind. Benefits of practicing mindful breathing include reduced stress levels, improved concentration, better sleep, and decreased anxiety.

There are several techniques for mindful breathing that you can use to help reduce the symptoms of shaky hands. These include deep breathing, belly breathing, and diaphragmatic breathing. All of these techniques involve focusing on your breathing and using breathing exercises to relax your body. Additionally, it is important to practice mindful breathing regularly in order to see the best results.

Exercise Regularly

Regular exercise is another great way to help reduce the symptoms of shaky hands. Exercise helps to improve your circulation, which can help reduce the trembling sensation in your hands. Additionally, regular exercise releases endorphins, which can help improve your mood and reduce stress levels. There are many types of exercises that can help reduce shaky hands, such as yoga, tai chi, and walking.

It is important to remember to start slowly when beginning an exercise routine. Start with low-impact exercises and gradually increase the intensity of the workout as your body gets used to it. Additionally, make sure to stretch before and after each workout session, as this will help to prevent any injuries. Finally, it is important to consult with your doctor before starting any new exercise program, especially if you have any underlying medical conditions.

Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated is another great way to help reduce the symptoms of shaky hands. Drinking plenty of water can help to keep your body and muscles from becoming dehydrated, which can cause trembling sensations in your hands. Additionally, staying hydrated can help to regulate your blood sugar levels, which can help reduce the shaking sensations in your hands.

It is important to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day, and it is recommended to drink at least 8 glasses of water per day. Additionally, it is important to avoid sugary drinks, as these can actually cause your blood sugar levels to spike, which can lead to more trembling in your hands. Lastly, it is important to limit your alcohol intake, as alcohol can dehydrate your body, leading to more shaky hands.

Avoid Caffeine

Caffeine is another substance that can contribute to the symptoms of shaky hands. Caffeine is a stimulant, which means it can cause your heart rate to increase and can make your hands shake. Additionally, too much caffeine can lead to dehydration, which can further contribute to the trembling sensations in your hands.

It is important to be aware of how much caffeine you are consuming on a daily basis. It is recommended to limit your caffeine intake to no more than 200 milligrams per day. Additionally, if you do choose to drink caffeinated beverages, make sure to drink plenty of water as well. Lastly, there are many alternatives to caffeinated beverages, such as herbal teas or decaffeinated coffee, which can still provide a boost of energy without the negative side effects.

Take Supplements

Certain supplements can also help to reduce the symptoms of shaky hands. Magnesium and Vitamin B6 are two of the most commonly used supplements for this condition. Magnesium helps to relax the muscles and can help to reduce the trembling sensations in your hands. Additionally, Vitamin B6 helps to regulate blood sugar levels, which can help reduce the shaking in your hands.

It is important to talk to your doctor before taking any supplements, as some may have potential side effects. Additionally, it is important to take the correct dosage of the supplement, as taking too much can be harmful. Lastly, it is important to remember that supplements should not be used as a substitute for a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Try Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques can also be helpful in reducing the symptoms of shaky hands. Examples of relaxation techniques include progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, and meditation. All of these techniques involve focusing on your breathing and relaxing your body. Additionally, they can help to reduce stress and anxiety, which can help to reduce the trembling sensations in your hands.

It is important to practice these relaxation techniques regularly in order to see the best results. Additionally, it is important to find a technique that works for you and stick with it. Lastly, it is important to remember that relaxation techniques should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice.

Conclusion

Shaky hands exercise can be a difficult condition to manage. However, there are several ways to help reduce and manage this condition. These include practicing mindful breathing, exercising regularly, staying hydrated, avoiding caffeine, and taking supplements. Additionally, there are various relaxation techniques that can also be used to help reduce the symptoms associated with shaky hands. It is important to remember to talk to your doctor before starting any new treatment plan, and to practice any relaxation techniques regularly in order to see the best results.

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Deal with anxiety and stress using ten techniques that psychological research has shown to be highly effective.

The best way to deal with anxiety and stress is, of course, to identify the source and get rid of it.

If only this were possible.

You can try to avoid people who stress you out, say ‘no’ to things you know will cause you anxiety and stress, and generally do less stuff.

Unfortunately, this is often out of the question or you would have already done it.

So, here are 19 techniques you can use to deal with anxiety and stress that you can’t avoid.

Also, consider Dr Jeremy Dean’s anxiety ebook which contains 42 strategies for dealing with anxiety and is based on the principles of CBT.

1. Develop awareness to deal with anxiety

This is the step most people skip.

Why? Because it feels like we already know the answer.

But sometimes the situations, physical signs and emotions that accompany anxiety aren’t as obvious in the moment.

Here are a few common symptoms of stress and anxiety:

  • excessive sweating.
  • dizziness.
  • tension and muscle aches.
  • tiredness.
  • insomnia.
  • trembling or shaking.
  • a dry mouth.
  • headaches.

So, try keeping a kind of ‘anxiety and stress journal’, whether real or virtual.

When do you feel anxious and stressed and what are those physical signs of anxiety?

When you can identify what’s stressing you out and how you react, you’ll know when to use the techniques below to deal with anxiety and stress.

2. Breathe to cope with anxiety

The mind and the body each feed back to the other.

Taking conscious control of breathing sends a message back to the mind and helps you deal with anxiety and stress.

So, when you’re anxious or stressed, which is often accompanied by shallow, quick breathing, try consciously changing it to relaxed breathing, which is usually slower and deeper.

You can count slowly while breathing in and out and try putting your hand on your stomach and feeling the breath moving in and out.

Research has shown that deep breathing helps people deal with anxiety and stress.

Diaphragmatic breathing — colloquially known as deep breathing — involves contracting the muscles underneath the lungs.

Sometimes it is called ‘belly breathing’ because it feels like breathing from the belly.

In contrast, ‘chest breathing’ — using the muscles around the upper body — is less efficient.

This sort of shallow breathing is linked to anxiety, fatigue and muscle tension.

Belly breathing is best done by breathing in steadily for four seconds from the diaphragm, then exhaling for six seconds.

3. Avoid venting emotions

Some of the ways we react to stress are built on false conceptions of how the mind works.

‘Venting’ — letting your emotions out in an angry, tearful and emotional rush — is a good example.

It’s commonly thought that emotions have to be ‘let out’ in order to reduce them.

This simply isn’t true and is not a good way to deal with anxiety or stress.

Venting emotions can actually cause them to become more powerful, rather than allowing them to subside or reduce.

None of this is to say that you shouldn’t talk to others about what is happening, it’s just that the form it takes shouldn’t be a blast of raw emotion.

4. Think differently to cope with anxiety

One way to deal with anxiety and stress is to change the way you think about stressors.

You can do this by reframing the stressful tasks you have to do.

For example, giving a presentation is stressful but, on the other hand, it’s a chance to demonstrate your expertise to others and to network.

One study on how to beat stress had bankers watching a ‘stress-is-enhancing’ video which suggested that some people do their best work under pressure.

For example, Captain “Sully” Sullenberger landed his stricken airliner on the Hudson River and Winston Churchill successfully led Britain through WWII.

Those who’d seen the ‘stress-is-enhancing’ video did develop a more positive stress mindset.

This led to them reporting better performance at work and fewer psychological problems over the subsequent two weeks.

In addition, thinking that stress is enhancing was associated with lower levels of cortisol, a hormone closely associated with the stress response.

In other words, people’s physiological reaction to stress and anxiety was better when they endorsed the idea that stress is enhancing.

5. Accept anxiety to deal with it

Sometimes, though, trying to find the upside of a stressful situation can be hard.

Some situations are what they are and there are no ways to fool yourself into thinking about them differently.

In that case it’s better just to accept the situation to cope with anxiety and stress, rather than fighting it.

Acceptance doesn’t mean it’s right, that you’re happy about it or that you ignore it.

It also doesn’t mean that you give up.

Rather it’s acceptance that something can’t be changed and it is wasted effort trying to work out how it can be changed, or how it could have been different.

6. Keep busy to handle anxiety

The problem with feeling anxious and stressed is that it makes you feel less motivated to engage with distracting activities.

When unoccupied, the mind tends to wander, often to anxieties.

One answer is to have a list of activities that you find enjoyable ready in advance.

When anxiety hits at an inactive moment, you can go off and do something to occupy your mind.

Try to have things on your list that you know you will enjoy and are easy to get started on.

(A word of caution: being too busy is not a good idea, you want to be occupied, but not creating even more anxiety and stress for yourself.)

7. Dealing with intrusive thoughts

Much of the everyday anxiety and stress we face results from unwanted intrusive thoughts going around in our heads.

They could run from things as simple as “Did I turn off the cooker?” up to persistent worries about the future.

There are a number of techniques to get rid of intrusive thoughts, here are a few:

  • The worry period. Researchers have tried asking those with persistent anxious thoughts to postpone their worrying until a designated 30-minute ‘worry period’. Save up all your worrying for this time and it may ease your mind the rest of the time.
  • Write about it. Writing about your deepest thoughts and feelings may help to reduce recurrent unwanted thoughts.

There are six more in this article on intrusive thoughts.

8. Muscle relaxation technique

The most common type of relaxation therapy which psychologist teach may be familiar to you.

It involves mentally going around the muscle groups in your body, first tensing then relaxing each one. It’s as simple as that.

And, with practice, it becomes easier to spot when you are becoming anxious and the muscles are becoming tense.

The next stage is to cut out the tensing phase and move straight to relaxing each muscle.

Next, you learn to associate a certain cue, say thinking ‘be calm’ with a relaxed state.

You then learn to relax really quickly.

Finally you practise your relaxation technique in real-world anxiety-provoking situations.

Read more about relaxation techniques for anxiety.

9. Exercise to cope with anxiety

One of the best ways to deal with anxiety and stress is to exercise.

Studies on mice, for example, have shown that exercise reorganises the brain so that it is more resistant to stress (Schoenfeld et al., 2013).

It does this by stopping the neurons firing in the regions of the brain thought to be important in the stress response (the ventral hippocampus).

Studies in humans show that exercise has a relatively long-lasting protective effect against anxiety (Smith, 2013).

Both low and medium intensity exercise have been shown to reduce anxiety.

However, those doing high intensity exercise are likely to experience the greatest reduction in anxiety, especially among women (Cox et al., 2004).

Exercise can reduce anxiety symptoms by 20 percent compared with those who do not exercise (Herring et al., 2010).

As little as 20 minutes can make you feel calmer right now — and it works on just about everybody.

More than around 30 minutes of exercise, though, seems to provide the best dose for anxiety.

Up to 80 percent of people experiencing depression say exercise improves their mood and anxiety most of the time, another study has found.

10. Sleep to combat anxiety

Stress and anxiety can lead to lost sleep.

So learn the most successful single intervention psychologists use to help people sleep well.

It is called Stimulus Control Therapy (Morin et al., 2006).

You’ll be happy to hear it consists of six very straightforward steps.

If you follow these, it should improve your sleep which, in turn, should help you deal with anxiety and stress.

Here they are: how to fall asleep fast.

11. Reframe anxiety-provoking situations

One of the best ways to deal with anxiety and stress is to think about situations differently.

Most situations can be re-framed and studies show that people who do this naturally — as opposed to trying to suppress their anxiety — feel less anxious in stressful social situations.

For example:

  • It is not a scary presentation; it is a little chat with a few colleagues.
  • It is not a job interview; it is a chance to meet some new people.

Reappraisal can be beneficial when anxiety becomes persistent and gets in the way of everyday life.

12. Safety signals to deal with anxiety

Using safety signals helps people to deal with anxiety and stress.

Safety signals can be anything from a picture linked to relaxing thoughts, to a piece of music or a place.

When in a situation that provokes anxiety, thinking about these safety signals can help.

Safety signals access a totally different network in the brain to those usually targeted by therapy or medication.

Therefore, they may help people who do not respond to other methods of treatment.

13. Lavender reduces anxiety

The smell of lavender can be effective to deal with anxiety and stress.

Lavender also has practically no side-effects in comparison to drugs like benzodiazepines and SSRI antidepressants.

Benzodiazepines, in particular, can cause headache, dizziness and an effect like being drunk.

Lavender, meanwhile, has a relatively quick relaxing influence and no other side-effects.

14. Improve gut bacteria

Improving gut bacteria decreases anxiety and helps people deal with anxiety and stress.

Both a balanced diet and using probiotics can help improve gut bacteria.

Foods that may help to improve gut bacteria include those high in fibre, such as vegetables, beans and legumes.

A diverse range of foods can also help many different types of ‘good’ bacteria grow in the gut.

It is better to avoid sugar, alcohol and artificial sweeteners as these can be detrimental to gut bacteria.

Prebiotics also improve gut bacteria.

15. Fruits and vegetables

Eating more fruits and vegetables lowers the risk of anxiety by almost one-quarter.

The study also found that anxiety disorders are more common in women, in those with low household income and those with other health problems.

Higher amounts of body fat were also linked to anxiety, Mr Jose Mora-Almanza, study co-author, said:

“This may also partly explain the findings associated with body composition measures.

As levels of total body fat increased beyond 36%, the likelihood of anxiety disorder was increased by more than 70%.”

16. Personality change

Two different types of psychotherapy for anxiety disorders can change people’s anxious personalities dramatically which helps them deal with anxiety.

The study included 60 patients with generalised anxiety disorder who received either cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) or metacognitive therapy.

Metacognitive therapy involves targeting basic thinking processes, in contrast to CBT which concentrates on the content of thoughts.

A simple example of metacognition is realising one is prone to repetitive thinking of depressive thoughts — what psychologists call rumination.

The results showed that just 12 sessions of psychotherapy was enough for people to make large changes to their personalities and improve their ability to deal with anxiety and stress.

17. Yoga to cope with anxiety

Yoga is an effective complementary way to deal with anxiety.

Yoga and breathing exercises reduce the symptoms of anxiety in both the short and long-term.

In fact, the more yoga practice people in the study did, the more their depression and anxiety improved.

Another study has also shown that practising yoga reduces the symptoms of generalised anxiety disorder.

18. Matcha tea

A type of green tea called matcha reduces anxiety.

Matcha green tea, which has a long history of medicinal use in Japan, has a calming effect, a mouse study has shown.

The tea has an active ingredient that stimulates both dopamine and serotonin receptors — both of which are linked to anxious behaviour.

Matcha comes in the form of a finely ground powder derived from the same small tree that all teas come from: camellia sinensis.

19. Therapy to deal with anxiety

Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is currently the best treatment for anxiety.

It is better than just taking drugs and better than taking drugs as well as having therapy.

Cognitive therapy results in either a cure or significant improvement in 85% of patients and online CBT is also effective.

It is probably the ultimate way to deal with anxiety.

→ Dr Jeremy Dean’s anxiety ebook contains 42 strategies for dealing with anxiety and is based on the principles of CBT.

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Introduction

Breath-holding is the voluntary act of preventing air from entering or leaving your lungs. It takes practice and determination to be able to hold your breath for extended periods of time. With the right training, it is possible to increase your breath-holding time from a few seconds to several minutes. But what are the physiological limits of breath-holding, and how can you safely extend them? This article will explore these questions and provide tips for increasing your breath-holding time.

Exploring the Physiological Limits of Breath Holding

When you hold your breath, your body begins to experience certain physiological changes. The length of time you can hold your breath is determined by several factors, including your age, fitness level, and lung capacity. Generally, an untrained person can hold their breath for up to 30 seconds before feeling the need to take a breath. With proper training, this time can be extended to around 3 minutes.

The body’s response to breath-holding is a combination of oxygen deprivation and carbon dioxide buildup. When you hold your breath, oxygen levels in your blood decrease and carbon dioxide builds up in your lungs. This causes a reflex known as the “gasp reflex”, which triggers an urge to breathe after a certain amount of time.

Training for Longer Breath Holding Times

There are several exercises and techniques you can use to increase your breath-holding time. These include strengthening your diaphragm, increasing your lung capacity, and practicing controlled breathing techniques.

Exercises to strengthen your diaphragm and increase your lung capacity include deep breathing, belly breathing, and pursed lip breathing. Deep breathing involves inhaling slowly through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. Belly breathing involves taking slow, deep breaths while focusing on expanding your abdomen. Pursed lip breathing involves inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth with your lips pursed together.

Controlled breathing techniques involve taking slow, steady breaths and gradually extending the duration of each breath. You can also practice progressive relaxation techniques such as muscle tensing and releasing and visualization. These techniques help to reduce stress and improve your ability to control your breathing.

It is important to start slowly and gradually increase your breath-holding time. Start by practicing your breathing exercises for several minutes each day and then work your way up to holding your breath for longer periods of time. Make sure to take breaks between exercises to prevent overexertion.

The Health Benefits of Controlled Breath Holding
The Health Benefits of Controlled Breath Holding

The Health Benefits of Controlled Breath Holding

In addition to improving your breath-holding time, controlled breath-holding has numerous health benefits. It can help to reduce stress and anxiety, improve cardiovascular health, and improve respiratory health. It can also help to boost your energy levels and improve your concentration.

Breath Holding Techniques to Increase Your Lung Capacity
Breath Holding Techniques to Increase Your Lung Capacity

Breath Holding Techniques to Increase Your Lung Capacity

There are several breath-holding techniques you can use to increase your lung capacity. One of the most popular techniques is Pranayama, an ancient Indian practice that focuses on using the breath to create balance and harmony in the body. Another technique is Box Breathing, which involves taking slow, steady breaths and visualizing a box shape as you inhale and exhale. Finally, there is Kapalabhati, a yogic breathing technique that involves rapid, shallow breaths.

Tips for Safely Prolonging Your Breath Holding Time
Tips for Safely Prolonging Your Breath Holding Time

Tips for Safely Prolonging Your Breath Holding Time

When attempting to increase your breath-holding time, it is important to do so safely. Make sure to warm up your body before attempting any breath-holding exercises. Monitor your heart rate and breathing during the exercise, and focus on relaxation techniques such as muscle tensing and releasing or visualization. If you feel any discomfort or dizziness, take a break and resume when you are ready.

Conclusion

Breath-holding is an activity that requires practice and determination to be able to hold your breath for extended periods of time. By understanding the physiological limits of breath-holding and following some simple training tips, you can safely extend your breath-holding time. There are also numerous health benefits associated with controlled breath-holding, such as stress relief, improved cardiovascular health, and improved respiratory health. With the right training and safety precautions, you can increase your breath-holding time and reap the many benefits of this practice.

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For Christine Dunst, co-founder and CEO of Embody Wellness Company, “the word ‘transformation’ always resonated deeply when thinking of how I wanted to serve this world,” she said. It had to begin with her own.

In her mid-20s and -30s, working 70-hour work weeks to climb the corporate ladder in the New York healthcare world—while living on processed veggie burgers, diet coke, and restaurant food—left her diagnosed with several stress-related illnesses. At 33, she had two miscarriages that “shook me to the core,” she said. “I knew I needed to fundamentally change my lifestyle, manage my stress and diet, and look deep inside.” Watching her sister fight and lose a heartbreaking battle with an eating disorder strengthened her resolve.

She became a certified integrative holistic wellness coach, and now draws upon her experience to help others—both individuals and corporate clients, which have included Google and Morgan Stanley.

“This matters on a soul level to me,” Dunst said. “It’s more than a job. Serving others is what makes me feel alive.” She spoke to American Essence about her own wellness practices, her work helping others, and the life-changing power of tiny habits.

Epoch Times Photo
(Samira Bouaou)

American Essence: How do you start and end each day?

Christine Dunst: I wake up at 6:30 daily. I do a hand-on-heart, 12-minute, deep-belly breathing gratitude meditation before I even get out of bed. Then I say my mantra and think about how I want to show up to the world today. Mindset is key. I follow all that with hot water and lemon to alkalize my body and stoke my metabolism, and then make matcha and ashwagandha for antioxidants and de-stressing goodness.

My non-negotiable nightly practice is a Dr. Joe Dispenza meditation for 20 minutes in my daughter or son’s bed as they fall asleep. My kids now ask me (and their father, who practices Falun Gong meditation) to meditate with them nightly. It’s special.

My daily rituals help destress my nervous system and tone my vagus nerve. Small habits, like gifting yourself the time for self-care rituals, done with consistency, can have a profound impact on your life.

AE: What do you typically eat in a day?

Mrs. Dunst: I cultivate and trust my intuition, so my body tells me what I need to feel good. I eat real, whole food and limit processed junk, sugar, and gluten. I also believe in eating organic and local and limiting exposure to toxins.

I’ve been plant-based for 20-plus years, but now eat wild-caught fish and grass-fed organic meat on occasion. I often incorporate gut-healing foods like fermented vegetables, celery juice, bone broth, collagen, prebiotics like garlic and onions, as well as digestive enzymes and probiotic supplements. I also load up on antioxidants, anti-inflammatory foods like ginger and turmeric, and healthy fats like nuts and seeds, EVOO, and wild salmon. I can’t forget adaptogens; they have been a lifesaver for me. Stress wreaks havoc on the body and adaptogens help keep me balanced. I add them to my matcha, tea, or smoothies.

I try to practice mindful eating daily, slowing down and actually chewing food—it matters! It improves digestion and helps you absorb nutrients more effectively. I’m really trying to curb my habit of eating while standing up. Never perfect, always growing.

AE: What are the most common issues you see your clients dealing with?

Mrs. Dunst: We see many clients who have gut issues—constipation, bloating, weight gain, and feeling lethargic, irritable, and anxious—and may not relate these symptoms to their gut. Eighty percent of immunity resides in your gut; it truly is like a second brain.

Habits we see include beating themselves up, guilt, self-sabotage, and overall speaking unkindly to themselves. We are constantly working on mindset re-writing. Working with clients to celebrate their successes and challenges is positive psychology, which starts to shift their perception of themselves, and teaches them to celebrate themselves in their thoughts and actions. Changing our thoughts impacts our current and future reality.

AE: What’s your advice for someone who isn’t sure how to start on his or her own self-improvement path?

Mrs. Dunst: Start identifying why you want to improve; then, define what you want to improve. During our first session with a client, we always help them create their exact goals and success metrics. Having this in writing is powerful. We have them print and say their goals every day so that they are their guiding force in all the decisions they make.

Pick one or two micro-habits you can commit to, and start there. Maybe it’s drinking half your body weight in ounces of water a day. Great! Commit to this for 14 or 30 days. Then layer on additional habits.

De-stress your nervous system daily—examples include deep-belly breathing or a gratitude practice—even if you start at 1 to 2 minutes. Move daily, even if it’s a 10-minute walk. Small habits, done with consistency, can have a profound impact.

AE: What has been your biggest life lesson over your years as a wellness coach?

Mrs. Dunst: Letting go. Especially after illnesses, a car accident resulting in a TBI and neck injury 6 years ago, and losing my father and sister within months of each other, I have a deep faith in something bigger than myself guiding us all.

Interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

This article was originally published in American Essence magazine. 

Crystal Shi

Crystal Shi is the food editor for The Epoch Times. She is a journalist based in New York City.

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Introduction

When someone is feeling “high AF”, it means they are feeling extremely intoxicated or overwhelmed by something, such as drugs or emotions. In this article, we will explore various ways in which someone can stop being high AF, so that they can return to their normal state of mind. We will look at the benefits of drinking plenty of water, eating healthy snacks, getting some fresh air, doing light exercise, taking a cold shower, practicing deep breathing exercises, and talking to a friend or family member.

Drink Plenty of Water

Staying hydrated is key when trying to stop being high AF. When someone is feeling intoxicated, it is easy to become dehydrated, which can worsen the effects. According to a study published in the journal Nutrients, drinking plenty of water can help to flush out toxins from the body and reduce the intensity of hangover symptoms. Additionally, drinking water can help to replace lost electrolytes, which can improve overall energy levels.

The amount of water someone should drink depends on their weight, activity level, and environment. Generally speaking, it is recommended that people drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. However, this amount may need to be increased if someone is engaging in strenuous activities or living in a hot climate.

Eat Healthy Snacks

Eating healthy snacks can also help to reduce the effects of being high AF. According to a study published in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism, eating snacks that are high in protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates can help to stabilize blood sugar levels and increase energy levels. Examples of healthy snacks include nuts, seeds, whole grain crackers, fruits and vegetables, yogurt, and hummus.

In addition to providing a burst of energy, healthy snacks can also help to restore essential vitamins and minerals that may have been lost while someone was feeling intoxicated. Eating a balanced snack can also help to reduce cravings for unhealthy foods, which can further contribute to feeling better.

Get Some Fresh Air

Getting some fresh air can also help to reduce the effects of being high AF. According to a study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, spending time outdoors can help to reduce stress and anxiety levels, as well as improve mood and cognitive performance. Additionally, exposure to natural light can help to regulate melatonin levels, which can improve sleep quality.

Fresh air can be found anywhere, but some of the best places to get it are parks, forests, beaches, or even just walking around the block. Taking a few moments to just sit and appreciate the beauty of nature can help to clear the mind and bring a sense of calmness.

Do Some Light Exercise

Doing some light exercise can also help to reduce the effects of being high AF. According to a study published in the journal Psychology of Sport and Exercise, physical activity can help to reduce stress hormones and improve overall mental health. Additionally, engaging in light exercise can help to boost endorphins, which can improve mood and energy levels.

Examples of light exercises include walking, jogging, yoga, swimming, cycling, and dancing. Even just a few minutes of exercise can make a big difference in terms of feeling better. It is important to remember to listen to the body and not overexert oneself.

Take a Cold Shower

Taking a cold shower can also be beneficial when trying to stop being high AF. According to a study published in the journal Medical Hypotheses, cold showers can help to reduce inflammation, improve circulation, and boost energy levels. Additionally, the shock of cold water can help to clear the mind and bring a sense of clarity.

When taking a cold shower, it is important to start gradually and work up to colder temperatures. It is also important to ensure that the water is not too cold, as this can be dangerous. Additionally, it is important to pay attention to the body and stop if anything feels uncomfortable.

Practice Deep Breathing Exercises

Practicing deep breathing exercises can also help to reduce the effects of being high AF. According to a study published in the journal Behaviour Research and Therapy, deep breathing can help to reduce stress levels and improve overall wellbeing. Additionally, deep breathing can help to increase focus and clarity of thought.

There are many different types of deep breathing exercises, such as diaphragmatic breathing, belly breathing, and 4-7-8 breathing. It is important to practice these exercises regularly in order to get the most benefit. Additionally, it is important to pay attention to the body and stop if anything feels uncomfortable.

Talk to a Friend or Family Member

Talking to a friend or family member can also be beneficial when trying to stop being high AF. According to a study published in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, talking to someone can help to reduce stress levels and improve overall emotional wellbeing. Additionally, talking to someone can provide a sense of support and connection.

Reaching out to a friend or family member can be difficult, but it is important to remember that everyone needs help sometimes. It is also important to remember that there are other resources available, such as hotlines, online forums, and counseling services.

Conclusion

In conclusion, there are many ways to stop being high AF. Drinking plenty of water, eating healthy snacks, getting some fresh air, doing light exercise, taking a cold shower, practicing deep breathing exercises, and talking to a friend or family member can all help to reduce the effects of being high AF. While it may take some time to return to one’s normal state of mind, these strategies can be very effective in helping to achieve this goal.

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In order to gain awareness of our emotions and ease the pain that can come from anxiety, we simply need to center our attention on our breathing. This is easier said than done, especially when we're in a moment of distress, but breathing is definitely the one constant in our lives. Mindful recommends a person pay attention to their body while it is still, bringing awareness to the inhales and exhales our body is doing for us. This will work to bring us into the present and meet each moment with awareness and mindfulness.

In addition, Art of Living asks those seeking mindfulness to try different types of breathing for relaxation. From exhaling through pursed lips, as in straw breathing, to deep inhales and longer exhales, as in diaphragmatic or belly breathing, all approaches to cleansing breathing can benefit our state of mind. Those who try meditative breathing use it multiple times a day. There is another approach to breathing that is helping people become more aware and more centered. This technique is called AIR breathing. 

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Anxiety is a feeling of worry, fear or tension about things that may happen. If you’re dealing with anxiety, one of the best ways to cope can be literally just one breath away. Breathing exercises are one of many ways to help manage anxiety.

Young Asian woman with eyes closed enjoying fresh air while relaxing on deck chair in balcony in the morning, surrounded by beautiful houseplants. Lifestyle and wellbeing concept

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Benefits of Breathing Exercises

Best Breathing Exercises for Anxiety

There are several breathing exercises you can do to help manage anxiety. You can do these exercises in a comfortable seated position or while lying down. Here are a few of the most helpful ones:

  • 4-7-8 breathing. Inhale through your nose for four seconds, then hold your breath for seven seconds. Exhale through your mouth for eight seconds. Letting all of your breath out with that exhale is what can really help you feel relaxed, Dardashti says.
  • Box breathing. You may also hear this called four-square breathing. First, breathe out slowly, focusing on letting all your breath out. Inhale through your nose for four seconds. Hold the air in your lungs for four seconds, then exhale through your mouth for four seconds. Hold your lungs empty for four seconds.
  • Humming breath. In yoga, this is called Bhramari Pranayama or Humming Bee Breath as it combines vibration and breath to release tension, Rubenstein says. Inhale through your nose for five seconds. As you slowly exhale through your nose, keep your mouth closed but make a humming sound like that made by a buzzing bee.
  • Belly breathing. This is also called abdominal or diaphragmatic breathing. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. As you inhale, try to expand your stomach into the hand that’s there. This is useful as the expansion works your diaphragm, leading to deeper, calmer breathing. As you exhale, slowly release air through your mouth and constrict your lower belly. This should be like deflating a balloon, Rubenstein says.

You can do several rounds of these types of breathing multiple times a day to help ease stress and anxiety. A small study published in Frontiers in Psychology in 2017 found that study participants who received intensive training in deep breathing had better attention levels, lower cortisol levels (cortisol is a stress hormone) and better emotions compared with a control group.

Breathing Exercise Tips

Here are a few tips to maximize the use of breathing exercises for anxiety:

  • Talk to your health care provider first if you have a health condition that affects your breathing. Although these exercises shouldn't affect breathing when you have a condition such as asthma, it's best practice to double check with your provider.
  • Stop using these breathing techniques if you feel dizzy or lightheaded.
  • Although you can use these breathing techniques for anxiety, they're also useful when you’re feeling fine. In fact, knowing how to breathe effectively will make these approaches easier to use when you’re facing in-the-moment anxiety. “You can see drastic improvements by taking a few minutes to use breathing exercises to break out of the constant worry loops that we often get caught in,” Hiser says. You can practice breathing exercises during situations including: when you take a break at work, when you go for a walk or while waiting to pick up your kids at school, Hiser adds.
  • Practice makes perfect, so to speak, but don’t worry about perfection. The actual amount of time you hold the breath or adhere strictly to a certain breathing exercise is less important than getting into the routine of deeper breathing, Dardashti says.
  • Remind yourself to breathe deeper. You’re breathing right now, but it’s easy to forget to use deeper breathing exercises, especially if you’re feeling anxious. Wear a bracelet, use a sticky note or find some other visual reminder that will prompt you to use breathing exercises for anxiety.
  • Consider adding visualization to your breathing exercises. This may involve visualizing a color, word or other image that you find useful. For instance, you could think of the word “calm” and envision breathing in a calm energy that moves down your body and towards your feet. Then, it goes back up to your body and toward your head, Dardashti advises. When you breathe out, imagine that you are breathing away stress and pressure.

Other Ways to Cope With Anxiety

In addition to deep breathing, there are other things you can do to help cope with anxiety:

  • Be mindful of how your body feels when it's anxious. Are you aware of those familiar physical feelings that come up when you start to feel anxious? Maybe there’s a pit in your stomach or your breathing gets more shallow, for instance. Stay aware of those physical reactions, acknowledge them and try and distract yourself from them with breathing exercises or other activities. You may not always be able to distract yourself fully from these physical reactions, but you can try.
  • Practice grounding. Grounding is the act of using sensory information to ground yourself back in the present moment, Hiser says. This can be particularly useful if you feel yourself having an anxiety attack. Think of 5-4-3-2-1: five things you can see, four things you can feel, three that you can hear, two things you can smell and one thing that you can taste.
  • Use meditation. Meditation involves focusing your mind on the present moment. You’ve probably heard a lot about meditation or even tried it. There are many apps to guide meditation practices, and you can try it in short spurts versus a long, drawn-out session.
  • Talk with a trusted friend or loved one. When you talk about your feelings with someone you trust, you can release your emotions, Rubenstein says. This can help you feel better.
  • Exercise. You may already know about the physical benefits of exercise, but it also can increase your endorphin levels (a feel-good hormone) and your sense of well-being, Rubenstein says. From heart-pumping cardio to yoga and everything in between, you’ve got lots of choices. All that movement can be an anxiety reliever. Bonus points if you can get some exercise outside, which also can help improve your mood.
  • Seek help from a mental health professional. If your anxiety is affecting your daily life, a mental health professional can help with more individualized recommendations to help manage your anxiety or other mental health concerns, Hiser says.

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Last Updated: January 02, 2023, 18:21 IST

During stress, people breathe using the muscles of the neck and chest, taking shallow breaths.

During stress, people breathe using the muscles of the neck and chest, taking shallow breaths.

Breathing exercises are a simple way to manage stress, feel more relaxed and help you put to bed in deep sleep.

When it comes to sleep, quantity and quality both matter a lot. Good sleep for about 6-8 hours is required for our body to recover from the day’s fatigue and keep our organs healthy, eventually improving our longevity. Insomnia and trouble falling or staying asleep are very common. Breathing exercises are a simple way to manage stress, feel more relaxed and help you put to bed in deep sleep.

According to sleepfoundation.org, breathing exercises may also improve the body’s production of melatonin which helps put a person to sleep.

Some of the breathing techniques that can help put the person to sleep are:

Belly breathing: Also known as diaphragmatic or abdominal breathing, the exercise helps you breathe in a slow and relaxed manner. During stress, people breathe using the muscles of the neck and chest, taking shallow breaths. Belly breathing helps you relax in the exact opposite manner.

To perform belly breathing, sit or lie down in a comfortable position with one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Take a deep breath through your nose and breathe in with your belly. The hand on your belly will rise. Breathe out slowly ensuring that your hand on the belly falls slowly. Repeat the process.

Box breathing: This technique combines breathing exercises with a visualisation where you have to breathe according to the measurements of the lengths of the 4 sides of an imaginary box. To perform this exercise, start after an exhale, inhale slowly and count to 4 as you do it. Hold your breath for another count of 4 and then slowly exhale while counting to 4. After exhaling, hold your breath again for a count of 4. Repeat the process.

Bhramari Pranayama: This yogic exercise involves a person covering their eyes and ears while producing a humming or a buzzing sound. TO perform Bhramari Pranayama, sit in a comfortable position and place your thumbs over your ears to block all ambient noise. Place your index fingers above your eyebrows and cover your eyes with the remaining three fingers of each hand without removing your thumbs from the ears. Inhale deeply and slowly and exhale slowly through the nose while making a humming or buzzing sound. Repeat it multiple times to relax.

These breathing exercises can help you go to sleep faster and for a longer time without you waking up repeatedly.

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New Delhi: Breathing exercises and certain techniques can help increase lung capacity and oxygen levels in the body, some of the key benefits that one gets through a workout or exercise, according to doctors and fitness experts.

Lung capacity shows how much air one’s lungs can hold. The experts have also noted that improved breathing can enhance physical endurance by boosting respiratory health.

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When you think of trying yoga for weight loss, do you wonder whether it will work? If yes, you are not alone. We often relate resistance training, burpees, and cardio workouts to weight loss. But don’t dismiss yoga just yet. Yoga can help you shed kilos if that’s your goal. The add-on? The breathwork can get you in a suitable mental space to curb emotional eating and get the most out of a workout. 

In addition, yoga creates a deeper awareness, linking the breath to the movement of the pose. This more profound understanding of the physical and mental state creates mindfulness, which is crucial when making healthier eating choices or knowing when to step back to prevent too much cortisol (stress hormone) in the body. Science backs it up: A study published in the American Journal of Managed Care proved that cortisol could significantly inhibit weight loss.

Research has shown that breath is a crucial factor in weight loss. But how? Well, by releasing burned calories with every exhale, releasing toxins and lowering cortisol levels. The yogic breathing techniques also increase the oxygen flow in your body’s cells, boosting metabolism and aiding fat loss.

Image credit: Pexels

Yoga for weight loss: Breathing techniques to boost metabolism

Consistent practice of the following yogic breathing exercises or pranayama suggested by Dr. Rohit Sabbarwal, Senior Art of Living Faculty can help in healthy weight management.  

Deep Belly breathing:

  1. Sit down with your legs crossed and place one hand on your tummy.
  2. Place your right thumb near the naval and your left hand higher on your chest.
  3. Take deep breaths and ensure your chest doesn’t rise at all.
  4. Only allow your abdomen to fall with each deep breath.

This breathing technique will curb emotional eating and get the most out of a workout.

Image credit: Marco Verch Professional Photographer/Flickr

Diaphragm breathing:

  1. Lie down on your back and relax.
  2. Take a deep inhale, exhale, and notice how your chest and stomach move.
  3. Continue taking deeper inhales and exhales. 

This technique will not only improve your digestion but also boost your metabolism.

Skull Shining breath (Kapalbhati). 

  1. Sit comfortably with your spine straight. 
  2. Place one hand on your knees with your palms facing the sky. Place the other hand on the abdomen. 
  3. Inhale deeply and contract your lower belly as you exhale. Then, force out the breath in a short burst. 
  4. You will feel your abdominal muscles contract. Release your abdomen and allow your breath to flow into your lungs. 
  5. Take 20 breaths to complete one round.
  6.  Then, relax with your eyes closed and observe the sensations in your body.

This technique helps reduce the cortisol level in the body. That cortisol word again, hey. Our nervous systems have a huge role in sustainable and healthy weight loss. 

Which yoga styles are best for fat loss?

Dynamic practices such as Power Vinyasa and Ashtanga help burn calories efficiently as you work towards healthy body composition goals. For example, ashtanga yoga follows a sequence of 26 poses designed to detoxify the body by generating heat. On the other hand, Power Vinyasa Flow is a fast-moving practice that creates deep internal heat whilst burning calories in the continuous aerobic flow.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Think holistically about your lifestyle if you wish to lose weight – stress levels, diet, and work-life balance. Once your cortisol levels are under control, your body is in a much better position to lose weight organically. As Hong Kong-based Yoga Expert and Founder of Harmonise Yoga Studio says, ‘Balance is the key to everything’.

Hero and featured image: Courtesy Wikimedia Commons


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Question: Which yoga styles are best for fat loss?

Answer: Dynamic practices such as Power Vinyasa and Ashtanga help burn calories efficiently as you work towards healthy body composition goals.

Question: How to lose weight with yoga?

Answer: Yoga practices such as Power Vinyasa and Ashtanga combined with breath work and a healthy lifestyle can help lose weight.

Question: Do breathing exercises help lose weight?

Answer: The yogic breathing exercises also increase the oxygen flow in your body's cells, boosting metabolism and aiding fat loss.



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Breathing exercises and certain techniques can help increase lung capacity and oxygen levels in the body, some of the key benefits that one gets through a workout or exercise, according to doctors and fitness experts. Lung capacity shows how much air one's lungs can hold. The experts have also noted that improved breathing can enhance physical endurance by boosting respiratory health.

According to Dr Deepak Sharma, consultant pulmonologist at Moradabad’s Ujala Cygnus Brightstar Hospital, improving breathing techniques and patterns by different exercises like incentive spirometry or deep breathing exercises oxygenates the blood more effectively and improves lung capacity. 

This involves using the full depths of the diaphragm and chest volume that are fully focused on the rhythm of the breathing cycle with inhalation and exhalation in an approximate 1:2 ratio. "More importantly, it also helps slow down the heart's overall metabolic rate and activates the body's oxygen-conserving mechanism," Sharma said.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the world understood how unpleasant the feeling of breathlessness can be when the virus affected lung capacity, he said. There is an enhanced sense of consciousness among people to remain fit and healthy, especially after the pandemic, Sharma said.

However, due to busy lifestyles, very few people manage to hit the gym or gather the courage to beat the cold or laziness and go outdoors for running, he said. Improved breathing can perform some miracles here by boosting lung health and capacity, which is crucial for the holistic health and wellbeing of an individual. Today, the role of smart respiratory training devices is also being explored to enhance lung capacity within a short time, the experts said.

Commenting on the evolution and role of such devices, Pankaj Balwani, founder and CEO of Xplore Lifestyle said, "Today, advanced technology is aiding improved breathing, and this can help people in taking some time out of their busy schedule to remain fit. We have come up with Airofit ACTIVE, a product that has been customized particularly for sporting performance as well as general wellbeing."  Airofit ACTIVE is a lighter version of Airofit PRO, a smart respiratory training device. Training with this device for four minutes a day has the same effect as a 53-minute VO2 max workout twice a week would have on endurance athletes, Balwani said.

Dr Arunesh Kumar, head of department-pulmonology at Gurugram’s Paras Hospitals, said anyone with a healthy respiratory system has the capacity to oxygenate the blood and eradicate carbon dioxide and carry out regular breathing procedures. Physical exercises are a one-time solution for multiple issues in the body and to regulate breathing there is no other way than to get out early in the morning and practise breathing exercises like pranayam, belly breathing and more, he said. 

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While the headaches and hassles of travel increase across the board during the holidays, not everyone has to deal with the same stressors. For Black people specifically, traveling during any period presents an extra set of complications and dangers in the form of microaggressions and overt racism — and those experiences can be amplified when airports are packed with frazzled nerves and flaring tempers. TriplePundit spoke with Zee Clarke, a corporate diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) consultant and the author of "Black People Breathe: A Mindfulness Guide to Racial Healing," about the additional pressures that come with traveling while Black and what Black people can do to protect their peace amidst the chaos.

“There are so many issues,” Clarke began. “Let’s start with airport security. Waiting in line for airport security is so stressful. Black people wonder, ‘Is today going to be another one of those days?’”

As demonstrated by a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the ACLU, the Transportation Security Administration’s own documents show how its behavior detection program is not only ineffective, but can actually be used as the basis from which to harass people of color and religious minorities. Some of the so-called behaviors used to excuse targeting include being late for a flight or yawning.

Black women are also more likely to be pulled to have their hair searched. “The TSA blamed thicker hair,” Clarke said, with the agency’s website indicating that styles such as hairpieces, buns and braids could trigger the alarms on full body scanners. Agents aren’t gentle either — she described how many Black women had their scalps roughed over in such searches.

And while it seems ludicrous that anyone would hide a weapon or explosive device in their hair, Clarke pointed out that disproportionate searches are not limited to thick hairstyles. She gave the example of a queer Black friend who, regardless of her super short hair, still gets pulled by TSA so often that “she’s just accepted that she is going to be targeted and stopped 75 percent of the time.”

Zee Clarke author talks traveling while black
 Zee Clarke, a corporate DEI consultant and the author of "Black People Breathe: A Mindfulness Guide to Racial Healing."

These secondary searches and interrogations aren’t just minor inconveniences either. Not only can the stress of being targeted have physiological repercussions such as elevated heart rate and blood pressure as well as psychological effects, but the results of such interactions can also be even more dire. Clarke pointed to Britney Griner as an example of the dangers that Black people face, especially abroad where legal protections can be lacking even more. Griner was originally sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison for bringing in less than a gram of THC. But a white woman, Audrey Lorber, who smuggled almost 25 times as much marijuana into the same country in 2019 was given a mere two months and a small fine.

As such, Clarke encourages Black people to utilize breathing techniques to protect their peace while waiting in line for security. She offered the 4-7-8 technique for lowering anxiety and calming the nervous system, an invaluable trick when faced with the likelihood of being pulled for a secondary inspection.

She spelled out how interactions like those with the TSA can lead to individuals getting triggered, which stimulates a fight-or-flight response that will not be helpful in a situation where the person being targeted is expected to remain cool and collected for their own safety. Belly breathing calms the sympathetic nervous system and is ideal to use in these sorts of circumstances, Clarke suggested.

While the risk of being targeted by the TSA remains one of the top concerns for those traveling while Black, it by far is not the only one. Clarke gave numerous examples of how traveling while Black can go wrong, including microaggressions from fellow travelers and less-than-helpful customer service representatives. Being cut in front of while standing in line is a common occurrence. “Especially as a Black woman, I feel invisible,” she said of the regularity with which white people will do this to her. “Because we don’t fit the prototype we just aren’t seen.”

Bias against Black women’s hair isn’t limited to security checks either as the ubiquitous affinity that a lot of white people have for touching Black hair doesn’t appear to be going anywhere. Clarke related one story of a friend who, as a Black woman on a cruise, was asked by a white woman, “Can I pet it?”

As if such questions were not bad enough, unsolicited touching remains something that Black people still deal with not just in day-to-day life, but also as an aspect of travel that – like any microaggression — can really sour the experience.

When it comes to delayed and canceled flights, Clarke pointed to how often Black travelers notice that they are offered less than white travelers in the same circumstances.  Of course, this isn’t limited to the transportation sector, as she explained, “Black people are five times more likely to be treated badly by customer service.”

When traveling, "the overall stress for a Black person is much higher than most," Clarke noted. “There is even a heightened state of stress while you are waiting at the gate.” Which is why she encourages belly breathing and long exhalations for dealing with customer service and microaggressions, as well as box breathing, body scans and stretching while waiting at the gate.

black people breathe book
Zee Clarke's forthcoming book shares microaggressions and other racially inspired incidences that Black people deal with regularly and offers breathing techniques for managing the stress that comes from those experiences.

“You have to be ready for anything,” Clarke said of traveling while Black, while also cautioning against hypervigilance. “It’s a bad idea to expect bad things.” She encouraged Black people to be aware but not expect negative experiences. After all, “hypervigilance is a terrible place to be.” Instead, she encourages preparing ahead of time with a sound bath or guided meditation to go in feeling relaxed. 

“During the holidays traveling spaces are crowded. And when spaces are crowded, stress levels are heightened. Regardless of race, everyone’s stress is heightened,” Clarke noted. “It’s a layer on top of that for Black people.” 

Clarke's forthcoming book shares more specific examples of microaggressions and other racially inspired incidences that Black people deal with regularly and offers breathing techniques for managing the stress that comes from those experiences. Allies can also benefit, not just from the breathing exercises, but also because it can help them “become more educated about what happens to Black people in America,” Clarke said. 

Image credits: TheVisualsYouNeed/Adobe Stock and Zee Clarke

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When you think of trying yoga for weight loss, do you wonder whether it will work? If yes, you are not alone. We often relate resistance training, burpees, and cardio workouts to weight loss. But don’t dismiss yoga just yet. Yoga can help you shed kilos if that’s your goal. The add-on? The breathwork can get you in a suitable mental space to curb emotional eating and get the most out of a workout. 

In addition, yoga creates a deeper awareness, linking the breath to the movement of the pose. This more profound understanding of the physical and mental state creates mindfulness, which is crucial when making healthier eating choices or knowing when to step back to prevent too much cortisol (stress hormone) in the body. Science backs it up: A study published in the American Journal of Managed Care proved that cortisol could significantly inhibit weight loss.

Research has shown that breath is a crucial factor in weight loss. But how? Well, by releasing burned calories with every exhale, releasing toxins and lowering cortisol levels. The breathing techniques also increase the oxygen flow in your body’s cells, boosting metabolism and aiding fat loss.

Image credit: Pexels

Yoga for weight loss: Breathing techniques to boost metabolism

Consistent practice of the following breathing techniques suggested by Dr. Rohit Sabbarwal, Senior Art of Living Faculty can help in healthy weight management.  

Deep Belly breathing:

  1. Sit down with your legs crossed and place one hand on your tummy.
  2. Place your right thumb near the naval and your left hand higher on your chest.
  3. Take deep breaths and ensure your chest doesn’t rise at all.
  4. Only allow your abdomen to fall with each deep breath.

This breathing technique will curb emotional eating and get the most out of a workout.

Image credit: Marco Verch Professional Photographer/Flickr

Diaphragm breathing:

  1. Lie down on your back and relax.
  2. Take a deep inhale, exhale, and notice how your chest and stomach move.
  3. Continue taking deeper inhales and exhales. 

This technique will not only improve your digestion but also boost your metabolism.

Skull Shining breath (Kapalbhati). 

  1. Sit comfortably with your spine straight. 
  2. Place one hand on your knees with your palms facing the sky. Place the other hand on the abdomen. 
  3. Inhale deeply and contract your lower belly as you exhale. Then, force out the breath in a short burst. 
  4. You will feel your abdominal muscles contract. Release your abdomen and allow your breath to flow into your lungs. 
  5. Take 20 breaths to complete one round.
  6.  Then, relax with your eyes closed and observe the sensations in your body.

This technique helps reduce the cortisol level in the body. That cortisol word again, hey. Our nervous systems have a huge role in sustainable and healthy weight loss. 

Which yoga styles are best for fat loss?

Dynamic practices such as Power Vinyasa and Ashtanga help burn calories efficiently as you work towards healthy body composition goals. For example, ashtanga yoga follows a sequence of 26 poses designed to detoxify the body by generating heat. On the other hand, Power Vinyasa Flow is a fast-moving practice that creates deep internal heat whilst burning calories in the continuous aerobic flow.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Think holistically about your lifestyle if you wish to lose weight – stress levels, diet, and work-life balance. Once your cortisol levels are under control, your body is in a much better position to lose weight organically. As Hong Kong-based Yoga Expert and Founder of Harmonise Yoga Studio says, ‘Balance is the key to everything’.

(Hero and feature image credits: Wikimedia Commons)

 


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Question: Which yoga styles are best for fat loss?

Answer: Dynamic practices such as Power Vinyasa and Ashtanga help burn calories efficiently as you work towards healthy body composition goals.

Question: How to lose weight with yoga?

Answer: Yoga practices such as Power Vinyasa and Ashtanga combined with breath work and a healthy lifestyle can help lose weight.

Question: Do breathing exercises help lose weight?

Answer: The yogic breathing techniques also increase the oxygen flow in your body's cells, boosting metabolism and aiding fat loss.



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christmas stress
Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain

The holidays can be a time for joy and connecting with friends and loved ones, but they can also bring stress and sadness. Angela Drake is a clinical neuropsychologist at UC Davis Health. She has practical advice for navigating the season's emotional challenges and specific tips for taking care of your mental health.

1. Manage holiday expectations

The most common advice Drake gives her patients is to figure out how to manage their expectations. "Often what we are experiencing is a disconnect between our actual situation and what we think it should be," Drake says. During the holidays, this can be particularly acute. If someone grew up with a big family, they might feel a sense of loss with a small gathering. "They are mentally comparing the two without even knowing it," Drake notes. She suggests focusing on what you are grateful for in the present.

2. Let go of the fantasy

She also encourages people to manage their expectations of other people. "We can all have the fantasy that everyone is going to have a wonderful time, but the reality is that there are often tensions in families," Drake says. "It likely won't be a fantasy version of the holidays." She says you can set your expectations by recognizing certain family members may always be difficult. "You can't control other people, but you can adjust your expectations and reactions, which can be empowering."

3. Check in with yourself

One way to manage your reactions is to check in with yourself regularly. "It is a way to monitor your emotional state and see how you are doing. You can think of it as a stress, anxiety or mood scale. You rank what you are feeling from one to ten," Drake suggests. "And when you are at a certain level—whatever you decide—you take a break." She suggests doing something you enjoy and find relaxing. She encourages patients to listen to music, exercise, do deep breathing (see tip #5), or do whatever activity or hobby they enjoy. The idea is to develop self-awareness so people can engage in self-care before reaching an emotional breaking (or boiling) point.

4. Have a plan

In addition to regular self-monitoring, Drake suggests having a specific plan for what you will do if you feel stressed out, sad, or anxious during the holidays. It could be calling a friend, walking, turning on music, reading, or watching your favorite TV show. The activity is as individual as you are. "All of this is moving towards wellness," Drake says. "It's about being proactive and engaging in self-care, rather than trying to ignore or stuff down emotions, which typically only works so long."

5. Breathe

Drake uses a technique called diaphragmatic breathing to relieve stress and anxiety. It is also known as deep breathing or belly breathing. "You can do deep breathing anywhere, and it doesn't cost anything," Drake says. She notes that people often "go, go go" during the holidays and will try to power through whatever they need to do. "But then it leaves them exhausted," Drake adds. "Deep breathing, holding oxygen in your lungs, allows better oxygen exchange. Your blood oxygen goes up. And as soon as that happens, you start to relax."

You can learn deep breathing from free online instructions and videos.

6. Share the happy memories

In addition to stress, the holidays can also be a time of grief as people are aware of loved ones who have passed away. "You don't want to submerge yourself in grief, but it is not useful to just ignore it because you are still going to feel it," Drake says. A strategy she recommends is known as reminiscence therapy. "The idea is to acknowledge loss and grief but not dwell on the sad memories. Just focus on the happy memories," Drake observes. "I encourage people to celebrate that person. Talk about them, reminisce, tell stories."

7. Connect with community

"Loneliness has negative health effects. The holidays can amplify loneliness, especially when people no longer have family or live far away from their families or friends," Drake says. For people who do not have a network of friends or a support group, her advice is to get out there and find one. She notes that people find community through many avenues, including churches, clubs, meetups, volunteering, cultural centers, LGBTQ centers, and many others. "Finding community is hard these days, but it is so important. You talk to people, interact, and get to feel good about what you are doing. And it is good for you."

Help is available by dialing or texting 988

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, help can be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by dialing or texting 988 from a smartphone. You can learn more about the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline on their website.

Citation:
Seven tips for managing your mental health during the holidays (2022, December 19)
retrieved 21 December 2022
from medicalxpress.com/news/2022-12-mental-health-holidays.html

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no
part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.



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Mental Health during holidays

Navigating the season’s emotional challenges

Sacramento, Calif. – The holidays can be a time for joy and connecting with friends and loved ones, but they can also bring stress and sadness.

Angela Drake is a clinical neuropsychologist at UC Davis Health. She has practical advice for navigating the season’s emotional challenges and specific tips for taking care of your mental health.

1: Manage holiday expectations

The most common advice Drake gives her patients is to figure out how to manage their expectations. “Often what we are experiencing is a disconnect between our actual situation and what we think it should be,” Drake said. During the holidays, this can be particularly acute. If someone grew up with a big family, they might feel a sense of loss with a small gathering. “They are mentally comparing the two without even knowing it,” Drake said. She suggests focusing on what you are grateful for in the present.

2: Let go of the fantasy

She also encourages people to manage their expectations of other people. “We can all have the fantasy that everyone is going to have a wonderful time, but the reality is that there are often tensions in families,” Drake said. “It likely won’t be a fantasy version of the holidays.” She says you can set your expectations by recognizing certain family members may always be difficult. “You can’t control other people, but you can adjust your expectations and reactions, which can be empowering.”

3: Check in with yourself

One way to manage your reactions is to check in with yourself regularly. “It is a way to monitor your emotional state and see how you are doing. You can think of it as a stress, anxiety or mood scale. You rank what you are feeling from one to ten,” Drake said. “And when you are at a certain level – whatever you decide – you take a break.” She suggests doing something you enjoy and find relaxing. She encourages patients to listen to music, exercise, do deep breathing (see tip #5), or do whatever activity or hobby they enjoy. The idea is to develop self-awareness so people can engage in self-care before reaching an emotional breaking (or boiling) point.

4: Have a plan

In addition to regular self-monitoring, Drake suggests having a specific plan for what you will do if you feel stressed out, sad, or anxious during the holidays. It could be calling a friend, walking, turning on music, reading, or watching your favorite TV show. The activity is as individual as you are. “All of this is moving towards wellness,” Drake said. “It’s about being proactive and engaging in self-care, rather than trying to ignore or stuff down emotions, which typically only works so long.”

5: Breathe

Drake uses a technique called diaphragmatic breathing to relieve stress and anxiety. It is also known as deep breathing or belly breathing. “You can do deep breathing anywhere, and it doesn’t cost anything,” Drake said. She notes that people often “go, go go” during the holidays and will try to power through whatever they need to do. “But then it leaves them exhausted,” Drake said. “Deep breathing, holding oxygen in your lungs, allows better oxygen exchange. Your blood oxygen goes up. And as soon as that happens, you start to relax.” You can learn deep breathing from free online instructions and videos.

6: Share the happy memories

In addition to stress, the holidays can also be a time of grief as people are aware of loved ones who have passed away. “You don’t want to submerge yourself in grief, but it is not useful to just ignore it because you are still going to feel it,” Drake said. A strategy she recommends is known as reminiscence therapy. “The idea is to acknowledge loss and grief but not dwell on the sad memories. Just focus on the happy memories,” Drake said. “I encourage people to celebrate that person. Talk about them, reminisce, tell stories.”

7: Connect with community

“Loneliness has negative health effects. The holidays can amplify loneliness, especially when people no longer have family or live far away from their families or friends,” Drake said. For people who do not have a network of friends or a support group, her advice is to get out there and find one. She notes that people find community through many avenues, including churches, clubs, meetups, volunteering, cultural centers, LGBTQ centers, and many others. “Finding community is hard these days, but it is so important. You talk to people, interact, and get to feel good about what you are doing. And it is good for you,” Drake said.
Help is available by dialing or texting 988

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, help can be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by dialing or texting 988 from a smartphone. You can learn more online at the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.

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The stabbing pain in your side is known as a side stitch, side ache, side cramp, or exercise-related transient abdominal pain (ETAP). It’s considered exercise-related pain, but exercise doesn’t cause side stitches. Side stitch is caused by stress or pressure on the diaphragm muscle.

This article will explain the symptoms of side stitch, the causes of side stitch, and what treatment, including prevention, looks like. You’ll also learn when to see a healthcare provider. 

Suriyawut Suriya / Getty Images


Symptoms of Side Stitch

You’ll know when you’re experiencing a side stitch. You may feel a stabbing pain near your rib cage or a sharp cramping feeling on both sides of your abdomen. While it can feel incredibly uncomfortable and limit what you’re able to do in the moment, side stitches are common and not typically a cause for concern.

Side stitch symptoms may include:

  • Sharp or stabbing pain on one or both sides of the abdomen
  • Pulling feeling under or near the rib cage
  • Aching in the surrounding area
  • Cramping sensation

Causes of Side Stitch

When you get a side stitch, it’s commonly because your diaphragm is spasming. The diaphragm is the muscle responsible for respiration (breathing). It’s located right under your rib cage.

Side stitches are often experienced by athletes. There are three underlying causes for side stitches, including:

  • Diaphragm muscle cramp (diaphragmatic ischemia
  • Stress on stomach ligaments (peritoneal ligaments)
  • Irritation of the muscles lining the abdomen and pelvic cavity (parietal peritoneum)

According to research, runners and swimmers may be more likely to experience side stitches while exercising, but it also occurs in people participating in team sports and in cyclists. One report estimates some 70% of runners may experience this type of pain.

Other causes

Other reasons side stitches may develop include:

  • Swollen spleen
  • Rib fracture
  • Muscle strain

When to See a Healthcare Provider

You’ll know whether or not your side stitch is cause for concern by how long it lasts. Benign (harmless) side stitches are transient, meaning the pain does not last. So, if you stop or reduce the intensity of your physical activity, side stitches may resolve within minutes. Some cases of severe cramping can leave a lingering soreness in the area for a few days.

If you’re experiencing severe and debilitating pain, or ongoing symptoms including cramping, pain, or any swelling that continues, it’s time to speak with a healthcare provider about what could be causing the symptoms. 

How to Treat Side Stitch

Treatment for side stitch can involve stopping a stitch when it’s already happening and doing your best to prevent side stitch in the first place.

How to stop a side stitch in its tracks:

  • Slow down (i.e., if you’re running, start walking).
  • Stop the activity.
  • Bend over forward.
  • Press your hand inward and upward on the stitch location.
  • Contract or tighten your abdominal muscles.
  • Breathe through pursed lips as if drinking from a straw.

If you’re still experiencing pain, you can try walking slowly with your arms raised above your head. This helps stretch the tight muscles. If this is uncomfortable, and you have a safe spot to rest for a moment, try lying down on your back with your hips elevated. This can help ease stress on the area and reduce pain within minutes.

How to Prevent Side Stitches

Sometimes a side stitch will just happen, and it’s nothing to worry about. Still, it can be annoying to stop an activity due to pain and discomfort. If you want to prevent side stitches from occurring in the first place, try the following tips:

  • Plan your meals around your physical activity to give yourself enough time to digest the food. It’s recommended people avoid eating within two hours before physical activity. 
  • Warm up before increasing intensity. For example, try stretching first for about five or 10 minutes.
  • Remember to breathe. Sometimes we can hold our breath during physical activity. This creates stress on the diaphragm. Keep breathing. 
  • Stay hydrated throughout the day rather than trying to compensate during physical activities. Too much water while working out can cause pressure on your diaphragm.
  • While working out, try wearing a lightweight, wide belt that can be tightened as necessary.
  • Practice belly breathing to strengthen the diaphragm muscle. 

Summary

Side stitches are rarely anything to worry about. Diaphragm cramping happens during physical activity. Treatment involves slowing down, locating the pain and pressing on it, and focusing on breathing. Preventing side stitches requires meal planning around physical activity, warming up properly, remembering to breathe, and staying hydrated. Wearing a specific belt while working out may also help reduce side stitches. 

A Word From Verywell

Getting a side stitch while working out or engaging in physical activity of any kind is a real pain. But it shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the benefits of moving your body in the ways you love. If the fear of experiencing a side stitch while exercising is holding you back, you may want to consider talking to your healthcare provider about your concerns and learn how to prevent them before you exercise.


By Michelle Pugle

Michelle Pugle, BA, MA, is an expert health writer with nearly a decade of contributing accurate and accessible health news and information to authority websites and print magazines. Her work focuses on lifestyle management, chronic illness, and mental health. Michelle is the author of Ana, Mia & Me: A Memoir From an Anorexic Teen Mind. 

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