I recently spent some time (like 5 consecutive days!) with my mum and I really noticed something alarming.
And the more I noticed the pattern, the more I realised that this is something so many women of all ages are struggling with but they just accept it as ‘normal’.
You see my mum is 64 years young and has Parkinson’s Disease. She was diagnosed in her late 50’s and whilst most people may not notice it, as she manages it pretty well, I certainly noticed some things when we spent this time together.
Parkinson’s presents in many ways when the brain and hormones are not in sync (that’s how I explain it). And when the mind and body are under stress it causes more severe symptoms such as tremors and shaking.
On this particular day when I was observing mum (I find human bodies so fascinating so it’s not unusual for me to sit and observe people), it was breakfast time on the day of my grandma’s funeral. Mum and I were staying in a Air BnB property in Adelaide and enjoying the homemade breakfast by our hosts.
Mum was shaking more than usual, and given the emotional circumstances I had expected that, but what what I was noticing most was something else. Something that so many of us do on a daily basis without even realising.
Her breathing was very short and shallow. Almost like she was puffing after a run, yet she was sitting down with toast and tea! The more she sub-consciously tried to control the tremors the quicker her breathing got.
I asked her to observe her breathing and mindfully slow it down.
Right before our eyes, as she slowly controlled her breathing her body relaxed and her tremors subsided. I was so excited – not only because she was in control of her own body but because in an extraordinary way she has the gift of a physical external indicator to remind her to slow down.
Now most of us don’t have that. But we do have indicators from our body which, somewhere over time, we have labelled as ‘normal’. Headaches, migraines, pains in chest, sore neck, tight shoulders, cramps and anxiety just to name a few.
If you experience any of these at any time (doesn’t need to be on a regular basis) then it is your body screaming out for you to listen. To make your body your #1 priority in life, because with out it – you don’t have life!
This shallow chest breathing causes reduced oxygen and nutrient delivery, increased feelings of anxiety and stress, and muscle tension. The better option, deep breathing, involves breathing from your abdomen, which enables you to draw air all the way down into the deepest pockets of your lungs. Deep breathing can provide a number of benefits to your physical and mental well-being.
And the easiest way we can start to bring our body back into a state of health and calm is deep mindful breathing.
There are many different ways to do mindful breathing but in it’s most simplest form it is a consciousness of the breath in through the nose, hold and breathe out slowly through the mouth. Wait. Then repeat. You can do this at any time of the day.
To help guide you, here are my top 5 apps for mindful breathing (in no particular order)
- The Mindfulness App
- Pure Breath
- 3m Mindful
- The Breathing App
- Deep Breathing