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Does Your Posture Promote Your Breathing?
Nurses: Does your posture promote your breathing?
Learning to breathe is an art that saved my life. Breathing? But don’t we do this automatically? Yes. Until the moment we take our last breath we will breathe and not have to think about it. However, there is something very special with intentional breathing. An intentional breath is one where you actually take time to pay attention to the moment you are actually experiencing. How much time during the day is actually devoted to intentional activity?
When we take time to do a few intentional breathing exercises our lungs expand more efficiently, and our oxygenation improves. My job recently involved a lot of driving. I stopped at an Earth Fare to get some snacks and saw a massage therapist. Instead of getting the quick massage I was looking forward to, I got lectured on my posture. When she realized my slumped arms and shoulders were a result of my driving, she quickly gave me good tips on posturing while I drive. Every time from thereafter I would concentrate on my breathing, my shoulders would automatically raise and fall back into a better position and I would automatically take this huge refreshing breath! I’m in a habit now to check my posture, and work on allowing more controlled, deep breathing.
Our posture can restrict our breathing and actually produce constrained breaths which do not promote optimal health. Restrictive clothing and poor posture can impede good circulation and cause symptoms such as tiredness and promote a sense of fogginess. Several times on your shift, pay attention to your posture. Make it a habit before you go in a patient room to align your body in a good posture and take a slow cleansing breath. Become “present” in the moment and with the patient you are about to visit. Several times around the nurses’ station in a shift pay attention to your breathing.
Are you taking short shallow breaths and exhibiting slumped shoulders, or are you allowing your body to have good posture and take good deep breaths on regular intervals? Here is what you need to do:
1. Align your body in a good posture with shoulders up and back, fully extending the lungs.
2. Exhale deeply, contracting the belly.
3. Inhale slowly as you expand the abdomen.
4. Continue inhaling as you expand the chest.
5. Continue inhaling as you feel your collarbones lift.
6. Pause briefly, and don’t hold.
7. Exhale in reverse pattern, slowly. Release the shoulders relax the chest, contract the belly.
8. Repeat * Steps taken from Wellness Workbook, John W. Travis, p. 31. As you take time to breathe purposefully, you will begin to notice a reduction in your stress.
I also use oils like lavender or chamomile to help relax, ground, and center as I do intentional breathing. Make your self-care a priority as you care for others!
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