Friday, August 27, 2010

E-Mail Apnea

My e-mail is running slow, today. It's annoying, inconvenient, and makes me realize just how addicted I am to this means of communication. Ironically, one of the e-mails I've been able to open is from my niece, Karen, who sent me a link to a Huffington Post blog by Linda Stone. She raises the possibility that we may be unconsciously holding our breath when we read e-mail or texting on our i-Phones and Blackberries.

Check in right now and see how (or even if) you are breathing. Take a moment and allow the abdomen to soften, letting it gently expand with inhale and contract with exhale. This kind of breathing automatically engages the Relaxation Response, sending important signals to the nervous system that everything is okay right now. Holding the breath, or breathing shallowly into the chest, helps engage the Fight, Flight, or Freeze response. This is the kind of breathing we do when we are under stress or in emergency situations.

Abdominal, or diaphragmatic breathing, can not only reduce blood pressure and heart rate, it can also keep you healthy. Chronic states of Fight, Flight, or Freeze can lead to, among other things, a decrease in immune system activity. If you counteract this situation by conscious abdominal breathing, the long-term systems of the body, such as the immune system, can function more efficiently. When the body constantly perceives threat through holding the breath or breathing into the chest, it is only concerned with the immediate needs for survival, and the immune system is not one of these needs.

For more information about the psycho-physiology of diaphragmatic breathing, see my post on June 8, 2010:

Here's a link to the Linda Stone's blog: 


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