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Too Busy to Breathe
By Debra Myers

When you…. stare at a computer screen, listen intently to a conversation, drive through traffic, or perform a task,  do you remember to BREATHE????

If you find yourself feeling tired, out of breath, jaw and shoulder muscles sore, this can be evidence of holding the breath and keeping the face and chest tense.
When we focus intensely on a subject and unknowingly hold our breath, face and chest muscles tense, it registers to the nervous system we are anxious. In other words, our breathing pattern and tension in the body accurately reflects our experience of stress. 
Since breathing happens automatically, we can develop an unconscious habit of shallow breathing due to clenched jaw muscles and tense chest muscles; which over time may prove detrimental to our health.

Practicing Stress Management techniques can bring awareness to where we are holding tension, how we are breathing, and if we are holding our breath when stressed or busy. It is important to lay the foundation of developing awareness or otherwise tension takes over.
The following exercises are designed to release tension and jumpstart better breathing:

Bring the shoulders up high, close to the ears.
Hold the shoulders up for 5-6 seconds; feel the tension in the jaw, neck, and shoulders.
Now let the shoulders come down and release.
Observe the feeling of the shoulders in this released position for 5-6 seconds.
Repeat 3-5x's.
With each repetition, observe the dynamic between sensing tension and sensing release.
Allow the jaw to relax and the mouth to soften as you continue the exercise.
When this exercise feels more comfortable, add the breathing technique of inhaling for 5-6 seconds when raising the shoulders up, and exhaling for 5-6 seconds when releasing the shoulders down.

As you periodically practice, you will develop the awareness of when tension arises and how to let it go. This physical practice will enable you to relax mentally, as well as gain more energy because you will be breathing more freely.

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Debra Myers is a Stress Management Consultant. For more information, visit the website unwrappingstres.com or contact Debra at debramyers@unwrappingstress.com.

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