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  • Writer's pictureAnnette Maier RN, LMT

Frequent Deep Sighs?

Stress and Breathing

Recently I have been exploring the relationship between altered breathing patterns and general health. We are not addressing for instance Asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) though they can certainly be accompanied by stress. Rather, I would like to focus on how this overlooked relationship between breathing patterns and general health makes hidden contribution to anxiety, stress and pain. Research and practice are showing that an integrative approach to hyperventilation or other disordered/altered breathing conditions can promote significant positive changes to those suffering with this condition.

Altered breathing patterns may look like:

· Rapid, greater than 16 breaths/minute

· Shoulders and chest elevate with breath

· Mouth breathing

· Breath holding, feelings of breathlessness

· Throat clearing

· Dry cough

· Excessive yawns

· Frequent breaths while talking, rapid sentences

· Sentences are incomplete in order to breathe

· Hyperventilation – chronic: frequent deep sighs, nonspecific somatic symptoms in the context of mood and anxiety disorders and emotional stress

Over time, disordered breathing can cause a large variety of symptoms including dizziness, anxiety, feeling easily overwhelmed, constantly on edge, pins and needles, chest pain or tension, and blurred vision. These symptoms spring from a change in body chemistry during hyperventilation that causes decreased levels of carbon dioxide, resulting in the PH becoming alkaline.

Bowenwork is very effective at moving a body out of stress dominance into deep relaxation where the body can begin addressing imbalances in its system. This often creates change in muscle tension patterns, which is needed to address the diaphragm and other related areas and results in deeper, rhythmic breath. Also, Bowenwork proves to be a powerful integrative tool in that we hear clients report connecting to their emotions, memories, and their physical body. For many this is a novel experience. To solidify these gains, we introduce and promote Belly Breathing (diaphragmatic breathing) during our sessions. Belly Breathing gets the diaphragm functioning as the primary muscle for breathing: giving clients an opportunity to practice mindfulness, as they focus their concentration on breath. As this new pattern of breathing becomes daily practice it facilitates a shift in the body chemistry back to a normal PH and can alleviate many of the symptoms we noted above. In addition, we explore a variety of topics such as sleep, diet, stress management, support systems, exercise, ergonomics and hobbies, all essential in helping to identify other contributions to altered breathing patterns.

With a well-rounded approach to restoring natural breath we are likely to experience greater stability both emotionally and physically, increasing our resilience and enjoyment of daily life.

Working with you for health,



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