Depression, anxiety, PTSD, OCD, ADHD, suicide, and many other mental ailments are all serious health concerns. And also buzzwords for politicians and media attention that many feel are talked about, but never addressed. If you follow the news and mainstream media you might be led to believe that pharmaceuticals are the only treatment for mental health issues. There seems to be very little discussion regarding use of exercise (recess and PE for kids) and management of stress through breathing techniques. Both of these methods are readily available for free and span socioeconomic factors as well. Most people don’t need much space to walk, run, swim or practice calisthenics exercises. Breathing techniques are easily taught and practiced once someone is educated. A national healthcare system based on lifestyle habits of proper diet and regular exercise would be less expensive that the $4.3 trillion dollars that was spent on “sickcare” in 2021. “Selfcare” teaches people to be responsible for their own health and doesn’t help to bring profits to pharma corps, hospital chains and other facets of the healthcare industrial complex. So what should we do? Become educated to what your health is truly about…and it should not be to make other people wealthy from you not being healthy, well and fit.
The autonomic nervous systems, specifically the sympathetic (SNS, fight or flight) and parasympathetic (PNS, rest and digest) nervous systems play an integral role with the human immune system. The interaction between these two mechanisms is how the human mind and body reacts to everyday stress and sometimes traumatic stressful events.
Emotional states directly influence respiration rate which affect organ function and consequently the immune system’s ability to fight off disease and illness. When our breathing patterns change so does our blood chemistry. Our emotions reveal themselves in various breathing patterns. Emotions of anger, fear, and anxiety result in quick, shallow breaths. Grief causes us to breathe spasmodically. Boredom leads to shallow breathing, while sadness and depression produces shallow and inconsistent breathing.
Stress can be defined as an individual’s consciousness and body’s response to tension or pressure in regard to specific events or changes in one’s environment. Increased breathing rate is necessary when experiencing truly stressful situations, like being chased by an animal, running from a fire or similar life-threatening situations. However, continued breathing at this pace for an extended period of time puts accumulative stress on all of the body’s systems. It is also worth stating that not all stress is considered bad in that good things can arise from experiencing stress and coping with it (Tripathy 2018).This is actually how one can strengthen their own immune system by learning how to manage their own stresses.
Stress has become known as one of the main factors contributing to the top causes of human death. Heart disease, cancer, unintentional accidents, respiratory ailments, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide are the most common causes that all share a strong connection to stress. Deliberate management of the SNS by regulating respiration rate and volume has been proven through medical research to lower stress (Hartz-Seeley 2014).
The average person breathes 12-18 breaths per minute (BPM) during regular activity of standing, sitting & walking, consequently engaging the sympathetic nervous system. Constant duration in the SNS dumps neurotransmitters of cortisol and norepinephrine into the blood stream putting the vital organs in a state of constant high alert and stress which weakens the immune system. Health and fitness experts suggest that 6 BPM is optimal for the lungs to properly oxygenate the whole body, balance the blood chemistry and also remove toxins. The lungs are responsible for removing 70% of the body’s waste by-products through exhalation. Deeper breathing is a key component to having a long and healthy life. Through focused and deliberate breathing methods, many positive mental and physical benefits can be achieved. This is more easily accomplished through mindful breathing patterns from exercises such as meditation, qigong, tai chi and yoga (Russo et al, 2017).
I have been successful in the past decades, in managing my own stress along with accompanying headaches, anxiety, digestive issues, blood pressure levels and other ailments. When and if I begin to feel ill, fatigued or even flu-like symptoms, my course of action is to practice some tai chi and yoga, followed by a healthy meal and a good night’s rest. Based upon all of this information and my own experiences, I definitely think that our immune system is greatly affected by our nutrition, exercise/activities, thought patterns and lifestyle choices.
HARTZ-SEELEY, D. (2014, March 21). Chronic stress is linked to the six leading causes of death. Miami Herald. https://www.miamiherald.com/living/article1961770.html
Tripathy, M. (2018). Recognizing & Handling the Underlying Causes of Stress at Workplace: An Approach through Soft Skills. International Journal of Management, Accounting & Economics, 5(7), 619–632. https://search-ebscohost-com.northernvermont.idm.oclc.org/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=sso&db=buh&AN=131442513&site=eds-live
Russo, M. A., Santarelli, D. M., & O’Rourke, D. (2017). The physiological effects of slow breathing in the healthy human. Breathe (Sheffield, England), 13(4), 298–309. https://doi.org/10.1183/20734735.009817
I write often about topics that affect our health and well-being. Additionally, I teach and offer lecture about qigong, tai chi, baguazhang, and yoga. I also have hundreds of FREE education video classes, lectures and seminars available on my YouTube channel at:
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