Archive for the ‘Breathing’ Category

There are many reasons why you might wake up during the night and not be able to get back to sleep. To start, as the night wears on, your body naturally moves into lighter stages of slumber, during which it’s easier to be roused. That’s why wakeups are more likely to happen in the early morning hours.
Poor sleep hygiene can also play a role. Drinking caffeine in the afternoon or evening can prevent you from sleeping deeply. And having an alcoholic nightcap may make you fall asleep quickly, but often causes wake-ups later on in the night as your body metabolizes the alcohol. A less-than-ideal sleep environment—for example: a room that’s not dark enough, too noisy, or too warm—can result in fitful sleep, too. Over-the-counter sleep aids or prescriptions rarely offer significant help for this problem.

Various underlying conditions might also be to blame. People with sleep apnea, who experience pauses in breathing or shallow breaths as they sleep, often wake up countless times during the night. An enlarged prostate can cause men to wake up frequently to go to the bathroom. Restless leg syndrome, and the jumpiness associated with it, can jolt you awake, and chronic stress or anxiety can cause you to awaken frequently, too. And heartburn or a chronic cough associated with gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD) can cause you to wake suddenly through the night. These are all serious conditions, so if you suspect that you might have one of them, speak to your doctor right away.

One reason older adults may be at higher risk for insomnia is that sleep itself changes with advancing age. Sleep latency (time to fall asleep) increases, early morning awakenings are more common, deep sleep (stages 3–4) decreases, and sleep efficiency (time asleep while in bed) is reduced. Because older people spend less time in the deeper stages of sleep and more time in the lighter stages of sleep, they are more likely to awaken, for example, from noise in the environment.

To help stay asleep through the night, try some of these strategies to relieve insomnia:
• Establish a quiet, relaxing bedtime routine. For example, drink a cup of non-caffeinated tea, take a warm shower or listen to soft music.
• Relax your body. Gentle yoga or progressive muscle relaxation can ease tension and help tight muscles to relax. Deep diaphragmatic breathing with longer exhales than inhales is very helpful.
• Make your bedroom conducive to sleep. Keep light, noise and temperature at levels that are comfortable and won’t disturb your rest. Don’t engage in activities other than sleeping or sex in your bedroom. This will help your body know this room is for sleeping.
• Put clocks in your bedroom out of sight. Clock-watching causes stress and makes it harder to go back to sleep if you wake up during the night.
• Avoid caffeine after noon, and limit alcohol to 1 drink several hours before bedtime. Both caffeine and alcohol can interfere with sleep.
• Get regular exercise. But keep in mind, exercising too close to bedtime may interfere with sleep.
• Go to bed only when you’re sleepy. If you aren’t sleepy at bedtime, do something relaxing that will help you wind down.
• Wake up at the same time every day. If you go to sleep later than usual, resist the urge to sleep in.
• Avoid daytime napping. Napping can throw off your sleep cycle.
• If you wake up and can’t fall back to sleep within 20 minutes or so, get out of bed. Go to another room and read or do other quiet activities until you feel sleepy.


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Dr. Martin Seligman founder of the positive psychology movement described the 3 p’s of pessimistic behaviour

Personalize “It’s my fault”
We blame ourselves for the events that occurred and are angry for not having known or for taking action sooner.
Not taking failures personally allows us to recover and move on.

Pervasive “My whole life is a disaster”
Assuming that since this ONE horrible event/incident has occurred, everything is awful in their lives
Whether it’s personal or business related, they catastrophize that their happiness is gone and will never return.

Permanence “I will never feel joyful again”
Individuals believe that the way they feel now… shattered and broken… is the way they will feel forever. Evidence suggests that we do recover and often thrive in the face of adversity.

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I’ve written blogs in the past about breathing essentials. I can not over emphasize the importance of ‘awareness of our own breathing patterns’ Try the 4-7-8 technique to be more calm, focused and present in your life.

This Breathing Exercise Can Help You Stay Focused At Work

Think you know how to breathe? Think again. Here’s a method to help you keep calm and carry on.

What if there were something you could do right this minute to improve how engaged, productive, and creative you are at work? As it turns out, there is, and you’re already doing it—breathing.

Breathing transforms a stretchy exercise session into a holistic rebalancing. Meditation itself is grounded in breath. Which means the easiest stress-relieving and mind-enhancing exercise we can do is simply breathing better.

A Breath Of Fresh Air At Work

Major companies are making investments in their employees’ health and wellness, which in some cases includes offering yoga and meditation at work. Here at Upping Your Elvis, our creative leadership company, we’ve found the majority of senior executives we’ve worked with say that learning how to breathe properly has changed their lives.

Indeed, for such a simple habit the benefits can be surprising. Bill Reilly, marketing director of Apple Pay, said in a Harvard Business Review profile that by taking three deep breaths each time he sat down at his desk helped him relax during the course of a busy day. Over time, those three breaths turned into several minutes a day, then into a 30-minute meditation session. Reilly found it rebooted his perspective and helped him come up with new ideas and solutions to problems.

Rimma Muchnik, a strategic management consultant, recently learned how to breathe well, too. “Type A personalities, especially those in banking and finance, tend not to be as open to new things like this,” she told Crain’s. “I liked that it wasn’t
yoga-y. There wasn’t any deep discussion about the universe. I sleep better. I am more focused and productive at work; my blood pressure has gone down.”

Deep Breaths, Less Stress

Recent research has shown the positive impact deep breathing has on our bodies’ ability to deal with stress. Stress has been estimated to cost employers $300 billion a year in health care and missed work.

In a recent survey, 21% of employees reported stress as the main source of errors and missed deadlines at work; 15.5% had difficulty getting along with colleagues; 14.9% missed days at work; and 14.4% said stress made them late. It’s no wonder the World Health Organization called stress “the health epidemic of the 21st century.”

The ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure directly impacts your productivity and creativity. The emotional intelligence service TalentSmart conducted research with over a million people and found that 90% of top performers are skilled in remaining calm under stress.

Luckily for us, we can all learn to breathe better and keep stress in check—anytime, anyplace, anywhere.

The Science Of Breathing

Breathing correctly means supplying our bodies with the right amount of oxygen and replenishing the brain and other vital organs with essential nutrients. Our cardiopulmonary system plays a major role in moving those nutrients around—which means it’s the highway transporting all the toxins in our systems, too. Breathing, in other words, can help us control the traffic, keeping the good stuff moving while clearing the rubbish off the road.

We each take about 20,000 breaths a day. The average human respiratory rate is 30 to 60 breaths per minute at birth, decreasing to 12 to 20 breaths per minute as adults.

As babies, we all take deep, relaxing breaths from our abdomen. If you’ve ever watched a small child sleeping, you’ve seen their belly rises and falls. But as we get older, the way we breathe changes. Especially when we’re stressed or alarmed, our bodies operate on our more primitive “fight, flight, or freeze” instincts, and we take short, fast breaths to prepare for danger.

But prolonged periods of stress mean we constantly breathe like this, only ever using the top third of our lungs. It’s the bottom third of our lungs, however, that supply two-thirds of our breathing capacity. So shallow, thoracic breaths mean we aren’t getting what we need to function at optimum level. As a result, our cognitive abilities go slack, we have trouble staying alert and connecting with others, and often just have less fun.

On the flip side, when we breathe deeply we’re likelier to have more energy and feel less stressed. Our posture and digestion can even improve.

How To Breathe Better

There are plenty of ways to breathe more deeply, but one popular approach has been developed by the holistic health specialist and sleep expert Dr. Andrew Weil. Called the 4-7-8 method, it helps calm the mind and relax the muscles. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Breathe in through your nose for a count of four, feel your belly expanding.
  2. Hold that breath for a count of seven.
  3. Then blow out through your mouth for a slow count of eight. If you can, put your tongue behind your bottom teeth and making a whooshing sound as you exhale.

Weil says the method works because it allows the lungs to become fully charged with air, allowing more oxygen into the body and leading to a state of mental and physical calm.

“You have to do this two times a day religiously,” Weil says. “It will become a wonderful way to help you fall asleep. You can do it more often throughout the day.”

The best part, Weil adds, is that it “takes almost no time, requires no equipment, and can be done anywhere . . . After about four to six weeks you will see wonderful changes in your body.”

And as McKinsey & Co. partner Michael Rennie has pointed out, “What’s good for the spirit is good for the bottom line.”

Chris Baréz-Brown, author, speaker, and founder of Upping Your Elvis, specializes in creative leadership. Connect with him on Twitter @uppingyourelvis.




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