Mental Stress Can Turn Physical
Stress and burnout have strong effects on the body; that’s no secret. However, even though we know the impact that stress can have on all aspects of our health, we get buried under our many obligations. Workload, daily stressors, and life challenges become overwhelming to the point that we forget how detrimental it can be to sacrifice caring for oneself.
As medical professionals, we’ve witnessed our fair share of illness and suffering, which can produce stress and heavy burden in our own lives. No matter what profession you’re in, humans are not meant to live at such elevated levels of stress – but we do anyway. The physical toll it takes on a person is unhealthy; stress raises blood pressure, heart rate, cortisol levels, and has a negative impact on overall health.
There are a lot of stress-relieving methods out there, but one that is often neglected is one of the simplest: breathing.
At Marula Medical, we know that breathing correctly with focused attention can decrease that stress response and have a positive effect on our cardiovascular, neurological, and muscular health, as well as other systems. It not only improves our sleep patterns, memory, energy levels, and concentration, but in the end, betters our ability to manage stress. With that stress managed in such a controlled and disciplined way, we can go about our daily lives and deal with stressors healthily.
A New Way to Breathe
We are always looking for new approaches to daily health practices, and although certain tools may not be “new,” we use them in new ways. For better guidance in breathing techniques, it often helps to have some kind of visual representation. In this case, that tool is called the Hoberman Sphere. I know you’ve seen it before on the cover of boxes, in toy stores, or maybe online, but these are rarely used in a medical setting.
The sphere extends open, becoming a larger sphere, and retracts back to its original size. It is great for mimicking breaths, as you pull the sphere open during a deep inhale and slowly exhale while closing the sphere. By doing this, you are activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which then allows you to relax. This breathing tool puts your state of mind back into your own hands as a tangible way of controlling one’s breath and stress. Just remember to keep your eyes on the ball.
How Does the Sphere Help?
Let’s go back to what we know about the autonomic nervous system. By adjusting the rate of inhalation to exhalation, we can modify the sympathetic or parasympathetic activity in each breath cycle. When we breathe out slower than we breathe in, the parasympathetic nervous system is activated, creating a greater feeling of calm. Practiced attention on one thing, such as our breathing or the expansion and contraction of the sphere, allows us to center and decrease the stress response in our bodies.
Decompress Your Stress
I challenge you today to try a new way of decompressing your stress. Whether it’s with the sphere a few times a day or 10 minutes of slow stretching, I urge you to see how such a simple thing can have such a positive impact on your day and overall health.