Save Your Life!
It’s all about the 3T’s...
Thank you for joining me for the 3rd month of the SAVE YOUR LIFE blog series. I'm happy to share with you my 3 T's for breathing as we enter the holidays.
This can be both a wonderful time full of love and laughter and also a time fraught with strained familial relations and major stress for some. If that is the case for you, take these tips with you to your next family gathering so help you stay present and mindful of your emotions and stress response. Then, bring these breathing strategies with you into the new year!
1. Train yourself to take a moment to stop and breathe
2. Take deep breaths instead of holding your breath
3. Test the quality of your indoor air
1. Train yourself to take a moment to stop and breathe: Train yourself to actually notice your breath and to not hold your breath. We often hold our breaths without even being aware of it. Tell your body its okay to relax by targeting the connection between your mind and your body – your breath.
For many, the breath is an object of concentration. Try meditating or concentrating on only your breath. Focus your mind on the in and out breaths through your nostrils. When you focus on the breath you become aware of the mind’s tendency to jump from one thing to another. Simply concentrating on the breath brings us back to the present moment and all the richness of experience that it contains. The breath has been used a way to develop mindfulness, presence, and awareness. It is said that you cannot be successful in the art of meditation without having passed through the gate of breathing.
2. Take deep breaths instead of holding your breath: We often take very shallow and short breaths that don’t include the movement of our diaphragm. Make sure you are breathing in deeply by initiating your breath from your belly, not your chest. This way you’ll be engaging your diaphragm and are able to relax while breathing a fuller inhalation. When you breathe deeply you are not only increasing the amount of oxygen to your tissues but you are also kicking in the vagus nerve as it innervates the diaphragm and helps your body relax.
3. Test the quality of your indoor air or take the time to clean it by using plants and air purifiers. It is important to be aware of the quality of the air you breathe, particularly in your home or work where we spend so much of our time. The quality of the indoor environment has become a major health consideration, since urban-dwellers spend 80-90% of their time indoors, where air pollution can be several times higher than outdoors. There are gases from industrial solvents that are released into the atmosphere as well as gases released from our carpets, flooring, glue, varnish, paints or furniture.
Institute changes to make the air you breathe be as clean as possible. This can be done through (1) having an air purifier in your home and/or work environment but also (2) by using plants that purify the air. The best plants to filter and absorb these toxins from our air are: Spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum), English ivy (Hedera helix), peace lily (Spathiphyllum 'Mauna Loa'), florist's chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum morifolium), variegated snake plant, mother-in-law's tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata 'Laurentii') and Red-edged dracaena (Dracaena marginata) (1). The researchers in the study quoted suggest in order to accomplish efficient air cleaning we need at least one plant per 100 square feet of home or office space.
If you are buying a machine to clean your air remember the terms “air purifier” and “air cleaner” are completely interchangeable. The only difference is the type of filters. Although there are many different types of filters, I recommend a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter, as defined by the Department of Energy (DOE) standard adopted by most American industries because these remove at least 99.97% of airborne particles that are 0.3 micrometers (µm) in diameter. There are other types of filters such but I feel removable HEPA filters are best.
1. Orwell, R.; Wood, R.; Tarran, J.; Torpy, F.; Burchett, M. (2004). “Removal of Benzene by the Indoor Plant/Substrate Microcosm and Implications for Air Quality Water, Air, and Soil Pollution 157 (1-4): 193–207).