WTF has my Breath got to do with my business?
Breath is breath, right? It’s there, in and out, 24/7. It happens automatically, we don’t have to think about it and get this, it happens around 25,000 times a day. That is an immense amount of inhales and exhales, breathing muscles moving, lungs expanding and relaxing, oxygen and carbon dioxide exchanging. Sounds exhausting but it’s unconscious magic at work.
What has it got to do with my business though?
How you breathe, affects your whole body and mind. When you’re triggered during your day by something or someone or when you feel overwhelmed by too much too quickly or too little for too long, your quality of breath is affected.
When you feel stressed, you tense up. Your breath becomes shallow and the lower oxygen levels in your blood, signal to your nervous system stress response to breathe faster and shallower. This continues to signal to your brain that you need more oxygen, so again, you breathe faster and shallower and so it goes on round and around.
Your neck and shoulders tense up and you might start to feel pain in those areas. Instead of using the deep breathing muscles you end up using the smaller muscles in your upper body due to your shallow breathing. Plus, if you’re sitting at a desk quite a lot of the day, your diaphragm and deep breathing muscles don’t get the room to expand which exacerbates the tension in your shoulders and neck. If you don’t calm the stress response, your nervous system will switch into chronic stress mode, causing all sorts of mind and body problems, ultimately making you un-well and consequently your business suffers.
What sort of mind and body problems?
Sleep deprivation, digestive issues, anxiety, depression, circulation problems, fatigue, headaches, neck pain, irritability, difficulty concentrating, decreased sex drive, mood swings, high blood pressure…..the list goes on….chronic stress will shorten your life.
Aah! This sounds bad! How can I calm my stress response?
Your breath is the key to open up your relaxation response. We all need some ‘good’ stress in our business though, this is called eustress. Eustress is a beneficial amount and type of stress or challenge, having a positive effect on motivation, performance, emotional wellbeing and health. Eustress makes you feel alive, optimistic, excited, focused.
It’s the distress we want to avoid as much as possible and although just by being human, you’ll never get away from distress completely, learning to manage it using the breath is a big power tool in your tool bag.
The breath is helpful for those moments of overwhelm and stress in your business on a day to day basis and helpful when you suffer with chronic stress, which lasts weeks or months. There are first aid breath practices for those daily moments and other practices that can be done regularly to reduce the chronic stress hormones and train your relaxation response. Just like doing exercise to train your muscles, you can train your nervous system with breath exercises.
So you see how important breathing well is to working well in your business?
Breathing deeper, into your belly and practicing certain breath exercises will activate your vagus nerve, your big wandering nerve from your brain down to the depths of your gut. The vagus nerve is your body’s superpower; when stimulated, you feel calmer, clearer and more relaxed. This is where ‘gut reaction’ comes from, a nervous response that gives you butterflies or a sense of danger or the sense that something is not quite right. This response exists to keep us safe; your fight/flight/freeze response but as you know this can get out of hand and needs taming.
Your vagus nerve is the communication between this gut reaction and switching into relaxation mode and you can strengthen and tone it. Having higher vagal tone means that your body can relax faster after stress. A regular breath practice will help improve your recovery from stress, along with other ways to tone and train your vagus nerve, such as cold water immersion, massage, humming, singing and laughing; these will all help.
Your relaxation response is intricately connected to your vagus nerve and your breath is intricately connected to both. Being able to recover from stress quicker will have knock on effects in your business, on a day to day level and your resilience for your future business goals and longevity.
Have I convinced you yet that your breath is so much more useful than simply keeping you alive?
Are you one of those people who invest in your self-care and wellbeing and see it as a priority for a successful business or are you in the indifferent camp and don’t see the importance or value of it for your business success? If you’re in the latter category, I hope I’ve help you move towards thinking about your wellbeing more and the affect it might have on your business.
If you’re curious to learn more and be led through a variety of breath practices, please check out The Flo Club. You’ll not only find breath audio trainings but also yoga videos that can be fitted into your working day, trainings to boost your mindset and wellbeing, training on setting up a flow routine, programmes to kick start your wellbeing and relaxation/rest/meditation audios. You can try all this for free too with the 30 day free trial.