The impact of ‘harmless’ habits on our mental health

A little post about habits and their impact on our mental health. Dysfunctional breathing and the symptoms that come with it can often be a result of bad habits in your life. I appreciate some of you reading this will be unaware you have dysfunctional breathing and won’t recognise that the symptoms come from this source.

Technology – How’s your posture using your mobile phone today? How’s your posture sitting by your desk using a PC, Mac or laptop? Do you have forward head posture? Are you mouth breathing at all whilst working on technology? And do you chest breathe? These all add to your stress and can have a big impact on your mood.

Sleep – Do you literally finish what you’re doing of a day and then put yourself to bed expecting to sleep soundly and wake up 7 to 8 hours later? What preparation can you make to help yourself sleep better? If you eat late that will increase your breathing and can harm your sleep. Do you calm your breath, do you calm your mind before bed?

Daytime stimulation – Do you respond or react in your daytime business with regards to calls and messages? Do you always feel you have to respond straight away?

Entrepreneurs – Life is a marathon not a sprint. The tortoise beats the hare. Not everybody wants to take over the world by 8am and you don’t have to. The heart likes to tick over slowly like the brain, they both follow each other. Don’t make yourself look 20 years older than you are by behaving like an alpha male or alpha female trying to get everything done by 8am. Up your heart rate by doing gentle exercise first thing (if it suits you) not by chaining yourself to technology and work soon as you awake, switching between all those online channels until your head spins (that’s a sign of hyperventilation BTW).

Avoid drama/gossip – Watch how much calmer and how much more energy you have by doing this. Breathing optimally as opposed to dysfunctionally isn’t about feeling really chilled all the time. It’s about having lots more energy and living a more energetic life because you allow yourself to breathe – hence the phrase.

Avoid criticising someone or giving them advice when they don’t ask for it – By doing the opposite, you are adding to your daily stress load (and others) and the chances of dysfunctionally breathing. On the subject of the latter, doing so creates a cascade of stress through the body placing a heavy burden on your immune system, not the time to be doing that right now!

Learn to say no – Self-respect and self-confidence is sometimes part of a self development strategy that you might need. Learning to say no puts less pressure on yourself, and has less impact on your rhythmic breathing through the day. Pressure and stress changes our breathing over time and creates dysfunctionality.

Plan and organise your world – The sure fire route to putting yourself on fight or flight and the effect that has on your breathing, your heart rate, your blood pressure, your mood and mental health is to not pay any attention to planning! All the more reason to grow into liking your admin and nurturing it.

Nutrition – Highly processed foods can dramatically increase your breathing rate as can an acid-rich diet. Aside from observing the general rules about “you are what you eat”, where and how you eat it is important in the context of breathing education. For example, eating on the go whilst using technology impairs your digestion and you will not generate the nutrition you would otherwise if you were eating whilst relaxed.

Btw. People seem to always be happy to resort to a tablet to resolve conditions such as acid reflux and indigestion but they are often caused by dysfunctionally breathing either whilst eating food or by your activity very soon after.

Breathing techniques are a great natural substitute for pharmaceutical drugs related to remedying digestive issues. That should make sense given that the gut is the second brain and the brain, the heart and the gut are all very closely related and they all like to work slowly and gently during at least 50% of your day.SighingIf you have just taken a large sigh after reading this, sighing is on the hyperventilation spectrum and will just add to your dysfunctional breathing.

Be aware of how many times a day you sigh and cut it out! Sighing will impact on your sleep too if you’re doing too much of it during the day as your breathing may become unsettled once you hit the pillow. And that’s on top of all the other stresses created by your bad habits. Keep well.