Breathe Through December Madness!!

Well, December is here again, that time of year when life gets just a little more hectic and crazy.  Between rushing to finish off activities, catching up with friends, preparing for Christmas and summer holidays and hitting the shops when do you get time to breathe?fight or flight

How does all this rushing and stress affect our bodies?

Have you ever heard of the fight/flight response? It’s our intrinsic mechanism for dealing with stress.  It’s been around since humans began.


Consider a potentially life threatening situation such as a lion chasing a caveman – In response to this our bodies produce stress hormones (Adrenalin and Cortisol). The breathing and heart rate increases, as does blood pressure. Blood flow increases to muscles diverting blood from other parts of the body that we don’t need so much to get away from imminent danger such as the brain and digestive system.

In modern life and we may not be fighting for survival from lions but our bodies can be on high alert in a state of cortisol/adrenalin driven stress without us even realising it!!  This can cause us to breathe more air than we need!


The Respiratory System

At rest an adult should take 10-14 breathes per minute (more is hyperventilating), lie somewhere quietly and count how many you take).
We breathe air through our nose or mouth through the trachea into the lungs where the oxygen is transferred to the red blood cells through the alveoli moved to all our organs and muscles including the brain!  Our body converts the oxygen to carbon dioxide (CO2) which is then breathed out.  If we over breathe (too big a breaths, in a bad pattern – mouth and upper chest breathing or breathing too rapidly) then we breathe out too much CO2.  If CO2 reduces in our systems then it can lead to a whole lot of symptoms including:

•    dizziness
•    trouble concentrating or switching our brains off
•    cold hands and feet
•    tightness in the mouth
•    palpitations (heart racing) *
•    Chest pain *
•    muscle tension
•    bloated stomach
•    tingling and pins and needles
•    blurred vision
•    feeling short of breath
(If you experience any of the symptoms with a * please see your doctor)

It is all a bit scary isn’t it!  And all can be triggered from too much rushing along with other triggers such as low iron, life events, colds and hayfever, menopause and many others.
The good news is we can help all this, make ourselves feel better and reduce the stress to get through Christmas and the rest of our lives by improving our breathing.  In addition relaxed breathing helps to switch off the fight/flight response and get your relaxation response working.




Allison Aspinall is our physiotherapist with a special interest and extra training in treating breathing pattern disorders and hyperventilation.  After thoroughly assessing your situation (we allow an hour for the first visit) she will help you to retrain your breathing and teach you techniques  to help you feel better and stay better!  Click here to book an appointment.

Breathe Easy!
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