I thought I was going to write about #hurricanesnacks this morning, but I myself received a few different reminders on the importance of breath, so it seems like that is the topic that needs to be passed along.
And probably, with so many people near me feeling anxious while waiting to see what Hurricane Florence would do, there was a lot less decent breathing going on than normal over the past week.
So, right now, even as you are reading this, instead of hurriedly scrolling through, pause and take a long, deep breath or two. Slow down and digest what you are reading.
It’s no secret that when we are feeling anxious, stressed, hurried, or confused, our breath becomes shallow or irregular. Even just simply becoming absorbed in a task can contribute to us holding our breath. And, oddly, even though in Charleston we actually had quite a few days with actual permission to pause from our routines (something I imagine most of us could use more than we allow ourselves to have it), instead of taking advantage of the pause this brings, it’s easy to spin around in circles, buy a bunch of non-nourishing food and drink, and generally do things that rev up anxiety rather than calming it down.
And, here’s the kicker — not only does that affect mental health, it affects physical health and digestive health as well.
We are often looking for the right things to eat in order to lose weight and feel good in our bodies, and we rebel against that because our ideas of what that food is and what we actually want to eat often conflict. Soooo many memes about #hurricansnacks this week!!
But one of the very simple changes that everyone can make – starting now – is to breathe, slow down, and pause while you eat.
I love that the parasympathetic nervous system is familiarly called the “rest and digest” system (also “feed and breed”). Its job is to stimulate various autonomic (done without your thinking about it) activities – including digestion – when the body is at rest. Others include salivation, sexual arousal, elimination, and lacrimation – all ways that the body releases what has been stored within it. This is amazing to me, because what it indicates is that if we don’t rest, these activities will be suppressed and inefficient. No release and we continue to build up unwanted tension in our bodies and minds. This is why so many people get sick when vacation time finally rolls around. The body has been waiting for you to relax so it can discharge its stress.
Taking the opportunity to pause in your mental and physical activity while you eat gives you a few opportunities each day to allow the parasympathetic nervous system to do its job. In regards to eating, you will actually enjoy your food more and digest it better – which means you will absorb more nutrients, you will feel less bloated, and you will probably feel like eating less. Moving intentionally into a relaxed state while eating will also increase your metabolism as your body is able to focus on one task rather than many.
So next time you eat, commit to putting away all distractions and not eating on the go, sit down, take a few deep breaths before you start eating as you notice your food. Notice your salivary glands get going. Then as you eat, continue to savor your food and breathe even while eating (it’s possible!). Pause and breathe at the end of the meal as well, really allowing the tastiness and completeness of what you’ve eaten to settle in.
If you have time to continue to relax after your meal or take a gentle stroll for even a few minutes all the better.
Let me know how this goes for you!
May your days be truly delicious and satisfying!
Hi! I’m Laura Jarrait and I work with women who love to eat but feel like it’s running or ruining their lives. They don’t want to diet or take all the fun out of food but are tired of feeling less than their best and guilty, obsessive, or confused about what they eat. I help them eat with pleasure, drop stressful thinking and extra weight, support their health with confidence, and feel great in and about their bodies.
I would be thrilled to help you do the same! Get my free Beautiful You guide that teaches YOU how to eat with pleasure and thrive at your natural weight or learn more about how I can support you in your stress-free eating, body love, and weight-loss goals.