Just Breathe

When I wake up each morning I consciously acknowledge that I am breathing and alive.  Even on my bad days, I remember that as long as I am breathing it is a good thing.  Cancer made me realize that I truly want to live and each day is a gift.

If a person lives to 80, then that means on average they will take 672,768,000 breaths in a lifetime!  Try to make each one of them count and breathe deep.  It is astounding what your body gets out of just taking a deep breath.

Breathing does amazing things including:  releasing toxins, releasing tension, relaxing your body and mind, relieving emotional problems, relieving pain, massages your organs, increases muscle, strengthens the immune system, improves posture, increases digestion, improves quality of the blood, strengthens the lungs, makes your heart stronger, boosts energy, improves cellular regeneration, assists in weight control, and elevates mood.

This year I spend a great deal of time sitting in my car.  I drive my kids to and from school and all their activities and feel like a taxi driver.  I’m sure many parents out there can relate.  Although I don’t like sitting in the car so much, I am lucky that I get to drive over causeways and watch the dolphins playing and the boats sailing by.  It is very peaceful and I remind myself each time I go over the bridges to take some deep breaths.  Try to find a time of day that you can remember to do some deep breathing exercises.  The gains are enormous.

Breathing serves as the pump for the lymphatic system, just as the heart serves the circulatory system. Your cells must have oxygen to survive moment to moment. To thrive, they rely on a complex exchange between the circulatory system and the lymphatic system. Blood flow carries nutrients and ample amounts of oxygen into the capillaries, while a healthy lymphatic system carries away destructive toxins. Proper breathing is the moderator of this exchange.

We don’t often think about our lymph nodes unless we hear about someone with cancer, which is surprising, because we have twice as much lymphatic fluid as blood in our bodies.

So what is the lymphatic system? It could be likened to the body’s sewer system. Lymph vessels form a drainage system throughout the body. Our cells swim in an ocean of lymphatic fluid that carries away the detritus of our immune system, including dead white blood cells, unused plasma protein and toxins.

It works like this: blood is pumped around the body by the heart, transporting nutrients and oxygen to the cells. Once the cells have absorbed what they need, they excrete debris and toxins, which then get flushed and deactivated by lymphatic fluid.

The lymph fluid then drains into the circulatory system through two ducts at the base of your neck (the thoracic duct), and becomes part of the blood and plasma that pass through the kidneys and liver. But unlike your circulatory system, your lymph system does not have a built-in pump. It relies on the act of breathing and bodily movement to move all that waste fluid around.

The consequence of a sluggish lymphatic system is that you cannot detoxify properly. And if you aren’t breathing deeply or moving regularly, chances are your lymph fluid is not flowing as well as it could. As you can well imagine, this can lead to health concerns over time, including weight gain, muscle loss, high blood pressure, fatigue, and inflammation.

But the great news is that you can improve your lymph system cleansing by learning to practice deep breathing. The expansion and contraction of the diaphragm actually stimulates your lymphatic system and massages your internal organs, helping the body rid itself of toxins, and leaving more room in the cells for an optimal exchange of oxygen.

And while you are helping your body to clean house, you’ll also be fighting stress.

Deep breathing delivers many of the benefits of exercise, including facilitating weight loss. Though not a substitute for exercise, it’s a great first step, and deep breathing enhances the benefits of any form of exercise.

The sympathetic nervous system, which is stimulated in times of stress and anxiety, controls your fight or flight response, including spikes in cortisol and adrenaline that can be damaging when they persist too long.

As many of you know, chronic stress depletes the body of nutrients and destabilizes brain and endocrine chemistry. Depression, muscle tension and pain, insulin sensitivity, GI issues, insomnia, and adrenal fatigue among scores of other conditions are all related to an overworked sympathetic nervous system. What counteracts this mechanism? The parasympathetic nervous system.

Breath is the fastest medium by which these systems can communicate, flicking the switch from high alert to low in a matter of seconds.

Go ahead……just breathe!

-Kristen
Choosing healthy living over dying 🙂

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2 thoughts on “Just Breathe

  1. Jumping on a rebounder(mini trampoline) is another great way to stimulate the lymph. I bought one after my BC diagnosis and I really enjoy jumping on it. I was doing it every day for about 20 minutes. Now, I’m lucky to get on it once a week. I really need to find the time again.

    By the way, I am REALLY enjoying your entries.

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