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How to do Breathing ....
 Breathing — you do it all the time without thinking — and that’s a good thing. But you may be surprised to hear that you may not be doing it right. Here’s what you need to know — and do.

You know that breathing is essential for life. It’s how you get oxygen into your bloodstream, which then delivers this precious cargo to the rest of your body. Breathe out, and you get rid of waste gases such as carbon dioxide.

While thankfully we don’t have to think about breathing in order to do it, by fine-tuning how we breathe we may enjoy a number of health benefits.

Bad breath, good breath

As automatic as it is, many people may not be breathing very well. Tension, poor posture or ill-fitting clothing cause many of us to take very shallow breaths.

You can tell when you’re breathing shallowly because you can see or feel your ribcage moving out as you inhale. If that’s the case, then you’re breathing with the muscles in between your ribs instead of with your diaphragm, the powerful muscle at the bottom of your chest cavity that pulls air down. You may even be taking in so little air that your chest barely moves at all.

How to breathe deeply

How many times have you heard the expressions “take a deep breath” and “breathe through your diaphragm”? If you’re not really sure how to, try this exercise:

  1. Start by lying on the floor on your back. (This will make it easier to develop the proper deep breathing technique the first couple of times.)
  2. Place one hand on your upper chest and the other on your belly just above your waist.
  3. Breathe in slowly through your nose. You should feel the hand on your belly rise.
  4. Breathe out slowly. The hand on your belly should gradually lower.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 a few times, then focus on allowing your ribcage to expand and widen as your belly moves out, so that you are filling up your entire lungs, from bottom to top.

Breathing easy for the better

You don’t need to breathe like this all the time. But taking a few deep breaths periodically throughout the day helps you absorb more oxygen. And more oxygen means your body can work better — and you’ll feel better both mentally and physically.

Practicing correct breathing is also a good way to simply cope with everyday life:

  • Increase your energy after a tiring day at the office
  • Be more alert even without a caffeine fix
  • Focus better when everything seems to be happening at once
  • Improve blood circulation so that your bones and muscles get more nutrients
  • Reduce your symptoms of stress, especially when you feel like your heart is racing a mile a minute
  • Relieve pain — like after stubbing your toe

Take a big deep breath

There are many ways that you can incorporate deep breathing into your routine for better overall health.

  1. Pilates uses deep breathing through the diaphragm to aid the exercises.
  2. Yoga practice often incorporates breathing techniques called pranayama (breath control), in the belief that this can help control body and mind.
  3. Meditation focuses on observing the breath.
  4. Aerobic exercise in which you become slightly out of breath can challenge and enhance your lung capacity and efficiency.
  5. Vocal training and playing a wind instrument require good breathing techniques in order to enhance the quality of the music.

With all of its benefits, and the fact that it’s easy to do once you know how, consider proper deep breathing your portable fix-it tool.

 Learn Sarver Heart Center's Continuous Chest Compression CPR

Stress, anxiety or panic?
How to know the difference
Ever experience a sudden, unexpected feeling of fear, terror, intense apprehension or discomfort? It could be a panic attack. Here’s how to know for sure.

Although panic attacks (also known as anxiety attacks) aren’t in themselves dangerous or a sign of illness, they sometimes cause people to avoid situations or events — and that can interfere with their quality of life.

Key characteristics of a panic attack

Panic attacks are distinct from general feelings of anxiety or stress because they:

  • Occur suddenly, without warning
  • Usually last 20-30 minutes, and rarely more than an hour
  • Peak within 10 minutes
  • Are very intense

Symptoms you may experience

During a full-blown panic attack, you’ll experience some of the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty catching your breath, or sensation of being smothered
  • Feeling of choking
  • Rapid heart rate, palpitations or pounding heart
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Dizziness, unsteadiness, lightheadedness or feeling faint
  • Nausea or stomach distress
  • Fear of losing control or going crazy
  • Chills or hot flashes
  • Sweating
  • Feeling of unreality of being detached from yourself
  • Feeling as though you are having a heart attack or even dying

Since these symptoms could be the warning signs of another condition, you should consult your doctor before you self diagnose. And if you are prone to panic attacks, talk to your doctor about possible treatments.

How to get the sleep you need

The College of Family Physicians of Canada reports that 30-40% of adults have some amount of sleeplessness in any given year. If you’re one of them or simply want to get more zzz’s without pills, read on.

Everybody needs sleep. That’s a fact. But when it comes to how much, everybody is different: Some wake up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed with a mere five hours; others need a full seven or eight — any less and they forget what the coffee maker looks like.

If you feel sleepy during the day, are more irritable or just can’t seem to function like your usual self, it could be a matter of needing more shuteye.

If you fall into the “sleep deprived” category, know that you are not alone. Statistics Canada estimates that 3.3 million Canadians over the age of 15 (that’s one in seven of us) report that they have problems falling asleep or staying asleep.

It’s a common problem — but one you can avoid.

7 steps to better sleep

If you want to put an end to sleepless nights, these seven easy-to-follow tips can be just what you need.

  1. Stick to a schedule. That means going to bed and waking up at the same time every day — even on weekends. In time, you’ll “train” your body to follow a set cycle.
  2. Practice snooze control. If you need to nap during the day, limit it to 30 minutes and take it early enough in the day so that it doesn’t interfere with your nighttime sleep.
  3. Stick to a relaxing routine. Get into the habit of doing the same thing every night before going to bed to trigger your body for sleep. That could mean having chamomile tea, reading or taking a warm bath.
  4. Get comfort-wise. If you’re sleeping on an old lumpy mattress or pillows that have lost their shape, it may be time to invest in new ones. In some cases, you could just need a mattress topper so do some legwork before dishing out for a new mattress.
  5. Think air quality. Take steps to make your bedroom as cool or warm as you like. You may also need to buy a humidifier if the air is too dry, or a dehumidifier if you have the opposite problem. If you have known allergies (such as to dust or strong fragrances) then make sure those are in check.
  6. Limit light and noise. If necessary, invest in earplugs or a nighttime eye mask.
  7. Avoid stimulants before bed. Caffeine (coffee, tea, soda, chocolate), nicotine, alcohol, or too much food or drink could disrupt a good night’s sleep.

You’ll also be happy to know that leading a healthy lifestyle not only does your body good, it also helps you sleep better. So stick to an exercise routine that makes sense for you.

Know when to speak to your doctor

If you have ongoing sleep-related problems, then speak to your doctor. This is especially important if you’re thinking of trying over-the-counter medication or herbal remedies.

Medical Disclaimer: The information is not intended to replace a personal relationship with a qualified health care professional nor is it intended as professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition..

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