Do you think about your breath?
Thankfully, we don't have to think about it to make it happen, or we both may not have ever made it to this very moment. Imagine all the thoughts that cross your mind within a day, now add "inhaaale, exhaaale" every second of the day. Hello! Exhausting.
The act of breathing is involuntary, and we can thank the tried and true medulla oblongata for its amazing capacity to send a continuous message to the diaphragm via the phrenic nerve. There's a little more science going on in the body to get you sucking in all that oxygen and cleansing out the carbon dioxide, but bottom line, your breathe is your source of LIFE! The oxygen that passes through your lungs is sent to the heart, and like a fist pumping raver, it pumps that glorious life gold to every cell of your tissues and organs, giving them the energy and life force to function at maximum capacity for as long as possible with as little stress as possible.
So how do we maximize the oxygen in our blood, minimize the stress, and voluntarily assist our automatic respiratory system without overthinking it all in the process?
These are 3 actions/implementations/practices that have drastically altered my stress levels, all by taking a moment to think about, and thank, my breathe.
1."Stop, Spot, and Let Go" - I could tell you about a a few breath-work practices that will blow your mind and change your life, but I believe that starting with the practice of "Stop, Spot, and Let Go" will lead you to your own magnificent breath-work practice that fits you and your lifestyle. Also, I'll probably end up writing about some incredible breath-work practices that I've tried and stand by, so stay tuned and you may find your flow.
Stop- There are various moments in our day that spike our blood pressure, tense our muscles, and rattle our nervous system. They may be a thought about a dreaded unknown, an interaction with a stubborn stranger or loved one, or just the rush of panic that so gracefully arrives when we become aware that our list of "to-do's" far surpass the minutes left in the day..week...year!
You know what those are for you. When this moment happens, STOP, before anything else, and acknowledge (spot) this rush as a physical response to your body not getting enough airflow. Your organs are screaming for air. So STOP and listen. I'm not talking about physically stopping what you are doing, but more of a mental stop. You're the doorman to a hot new bar, and that thought of the future, or the person you want to Jet Li in the face, is an under age teen with a fake ID trying to get in your bar. You can spot them a mile away. Don't be the lazy doorman, take a moment to check out who's trying to get inside your establishment, aka, your wellbeing.
Spot- This act of stopping and spotting happens within seconds. It's so crucial how we respond because if we are used to letting the thoughts overwhelm us, then that's exactly what the brain will want them to do, time and time again. Spotting this intruder the moment it attempts access gives you the power to redirect where all the bad energy goes and how all the good oxygen can come in. Send that underage teen home...LET GO!
Let Go- Time to do what your body has been doing since the moment you exited the womb and entered the world, BREATHE. Take a deep breath, hold it for 3 seconds (or as long as you can without passing out) and slowing release. This whole process take about 10 seconds. You don't have to figure it all out in that moment. You aren't giving into the problem by NOT figuring it out in that moment. You are choosing to give yourself and your body a fighting chance at a healthy, sustained life. To help retrain your brain, don't wait for a stressful moment to practice breathe, hold, release. Do it in your car, on the potty, or while your washing dishes. These little choices can make a huge difference.
2.) Adopt a Green Baby- It's not a new revolutionary discovery, but did you know we get oxygen from plants?? Of course you do! We were taught to thank the trees for all the oxygen they produce, but did you know that trees only make up about 28% of our Earth's oxygen? According to National Geographic, 70% of the oxygen in the atmosphere is produced by marine plants. It makes sense when you think about the fact that our Earth is covered with about 71% ocean.
Since we can't turn our homes into an aquarium, getting a nice house plant is a great alternative. Worried you don't have a green thumb? Here are 3 plants I personally have in my house, listed in order of "nearly immortal" to "needs some weekly TLC."
Dracaena (comes in different varieties) -AKA- Mother-in laws Tongue, Snake Plant, and my favorite, Vipers Bowstring Hemp. I water mine once a month, maybe twice if their soil is super dry. you buy them small or large and they will grow depending on the size of the pot you put them in. The room I have mine in gets pretty good light in the day, but they don't need much. Place close to a window and they will be just fine.
Pothos - ( has many varieties) I love these plants. They are so bright and luscious and pretty easy to care for. A little bit of sunshine and a good watering every few weeks keeps these beauties happy. Keep an eye out for the vitality in their leaves. When they get droopy and wilted, it's time to water.
Peace Lily- This plant is so regal! When she blooms, that beautiful white Lily just demands to be honored and adored. That's why she is a little more temperamental. She likes light, but not harsh direct sun, and she needs a lot of water..but not too much. She's kind of a diva. The best rule is to just watch her leaves and make sure they are standing tall and full. Once they start to droop, you know she's thirsty. Make sure she has good drainage too.
3.) Adaptogens- Mushrooms! - No, not the psychedelic kind ( although that could, and will be a whole other blog post) I'm talking about non-psychoactive adaptogenic mushroom supplements. An Adaptogen is a non-toxic plant that help the body to ward off stressors either biological, physical, or chemical. They work with the body to find the weak spot and help boost whatever it is that is lacking or being over done. Such as inflammation. Think of an adaptogen as a tiny ninja warrior who's mission is to protect his village from invaders by training the villagers how to fight back instead of attacking the enemy on its own.
Let me first say that I am indeed not a doctor or health expert, so before using any new supplements, do some research and make sure they are right for you. I only know what has worked for me and what I truly believe in. About 7 years ago I started to take Lion's Mane, Chaga, Reishi, Turkey Tail, and Cordyceps. They all have incredible health benefits, but in the subject of breathing, cellular health, and stress reduction, I'd like to highlight 2 of my favorites; Reishi and Lion's Mane.
Reishi- An ancient Chinese mushroom that is known to help increase the amount of red blood cells the body produces, which boosts oxygen levels. Along with your deep breathing, Reishi is a great natural way to give your cellular production a leg up. I love all the products from Host Defense, which is run by Paul Stamets, an extraordinary mycologist. If you are interested in diving into the magical Fungi world, I highly recommend watching the documentary "Fantastic Fungi."
Lion's Mane- Another century old fungi with a mission to heal. Along with being an amazing neuroprotective qualities ( helps protect nerve cells against damage, degeneration, or impairment function -Oxford Dictionary) it has has been studied and proven to reduce inflammation and help prevent oxidation! We all know that an overly inflamed body can cause a laundry list of health issues, one of which being STRESS!
These are 3 practices that have truly made a difference in my life, but I didn't do them because some girl on a blog told me to. I wanted to make a change, I wanted to be healthier, I wanted a better quality of life. I am not an expert on any one topic, and I'm not claiming to know it all or to have found " the way the truth and the light." I follow my heart and I do a lot of trial and error, and then some more. I have a curious insatiable mind that won't stop until I see some results, and then I just keep going. This life is so full of miracles and tangible magic. I believe the answers to life are right in front of us, in the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the thoughts we think.
If you are like me, then I urge you to use this as a stepping stone and do you own deep dive into breath-work, plants, and adaptogens. I will continue to post what has worked for me and will go into more depth on certain topics as time goes on. So I hope you stay with me. If you've made it this far, WOO HOO! Let's go on this journey together.