Jun 20, 2022
Start by taking in a nice, deep inhale through your nose. Filling your entire belly up with air. Pause. Now as you exhale, allow the breath to leave through the mouth, nice and slow. Very good. You just practiced a deep breathing technique.
While breathing is second nature for us, we have to breathe in order to survive, for it plays a crucial role in regulating our physical, mental, and emotional health. The way we breathe is extremely important, and how we breathe is something we must focus on, especially while going through cancer treatment.
As humans, we normally operate by taking short, shallow breaths. We are subconsciously breathing rapidly without even realizing it. We tend to operate in ‘fight or flight’ mode on a daily basis. Fight or flight mode is an automatic physiological response to a situation and/or event that appears to be stressful or frightening. The sympathetic nervous system becomes activated by the perceived threat and triggers a stress response in the body. This can occur just by reading a work email or from living with cancer.
Receiving a cancer diagnosis or going through cancer treatment can easily cause stress, anxiety, and havoc on the body. When you enter into this state of fight or flight, cortisol and other stress causing hormones are released into the bloodstream. When this happens, blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol levels rise, all of which can disrupt your immune system, sleep, and energy levels. This reaction makes recovering from cancer even more challenging.
Coming back to why breathing is important. Breathing is your life force, your anchor. It’s otherwise known as your “Prana”. Practicing meditation and deep breathing techniques regulates the nervous system, allowing you to control your body and mind. Through long inhales and exhales, you can slow your heart rate, stabilize your blood pressure, and lower stress.
Breathing is the connecting link between the subconscious and conscious mind. And practicing mindful breathing is similar to training a muscle. You begin to train the body to breathe slowly throughout the day. Thus, when a stressful situation presents itself, you enter that particular event feeling more calm and at ease. By regulating your emotions and anxiety through the breath, you are able to not get absorbed into stressful situations.
Make sure to visit the OncoPower App for guided meditations, affirmations, and deep breathing exercises. On the app you can also find cancer care specialists, treatment recommendations, and a cancer support community. Our Mindfulness coach and Meditation teacher, Natalie Thomas, is also available for 1:1 support.
Click here to read The Power of Breathing Pt.2.