Take a deep breath: it’s an easy, free way to combat pain, insomnia, and nausea. Try these wacky-seeming techniques and let me know if any of them work for you.
WHAT TO DO
Most of us inadvertently hold our breath when we experience pain. Shallow breathing can make things worse by releasing the stress hormone cortisol instead of relieving the stress itself.
- Close your eyes and breathe deeply from your belly.
- Picture oxygen filling the painful areas with comfort as you inhale
- Picture the pain being pushed out as you exhale. This supposedly stimulates the vagus nerve, which calms the fight-or-flight response.
WHAT TO DO Try a technique called 4-7-8 breathing instead of medication. Keeping the tip of your tongue behind your upper teeth, follow these steps:
- Exhale through your mouth with a gentle “whoosh”.
- Close your eyes and inhale through your nose for a count of four.
- Hold your breath for seven counts.
- Exhale with an eight-count “whoosh” through your mouth.
Repeat three times or until you fall asleep from boredom. Caveat: Warn your partner that you’re about to make weird noises!
WHAT TO DO Controlled breathing is said to help suppress the gag reflex and encourage peristalsis, the muscle contractions that move food into the stomach. Picture yourself walking barefoot down a long, stone staircase.
- Inhale slowly through your nose for a count of four as you imagine how the cool stone feels underfoot.
- Exhale with your lips closed for a count of eight as you imagine stepping down.
- Repeat until you stop feeling queasy.