Breathe Your Way to Calm & Clarity with Dr. Trisha Smith
"Trust your exhale."
Dr. Trisha Smith
Can you use breathing to find calm and clarity?
We all struggle with managing our stress levels in our day-to-day lives. It’s important to know how to take control of stressful situations by introducing a sense of calm during those high-stress situations.
Here with us today is Dr. Trisha Smith. She’s the Founder of Expand Your Human and was one of the first individuals certified to be an instructor for Wim Hof in the United States. Doc Trish has worked with many high-performing clients and delivered speeches on some incredible stages around the world.
Listen in as Doc Trish communicates the science of breath and the science of cold therapy, while breaking them both down into practical exercises you can do to improve your calm and manage your stress.
Resetting Our Nervous System–Where Do We Start?
- Two areas that we’ll focus on today are breath and cold. We can also use movement and vision, but let’s spend time focusing on the first two.
- When it comes to feeling nervous or frightened or stressed, breath and cold are two modalities that really work to harness a sense of calm.
- With breathing, the first place to start is with your awareness. You have to know where you are, in order to know where you want to go and how to get there.
- Becoming aware of your breath brings you into your body.
- Resetting your nervous system is about being able to control the controllable.
- From a physiology perspective, stay away from the word control. Instead, view control as your ability to influence how your body responds to things. And you do have a major influence on your response.
- In fact, science is working on understanding how to shift your energies and your states, revealing how it’s possible to do things you never thought you could.
- Wim Hof is an excellent example of this and has shown the world the incredible array of things you can do like climbing cold mountains in your shorts. Things you might never have believed possible before.
- Through him, science is learning a lot behind how this is possible and unlocking more in your human potential.
- Awareness doesn’t just make you aware of your body, but it also makes you aware of your reactions and your responses. It allows you to become aware of your influence on these things.
- There’s a quote she focuses on by Victor Frankl.
- “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
- The easiest way to create that space between stimulus and response is your breath.
- Breath allows you to understand what’s happening in the outside world and influence how you respond to it, rather than react.
- And the simplest way to focus on your breath is by becoming aware of it. Or, as Doc Trish likes to say: trust your exhale.
Trust Your Exhale
- With breath, we know relaxation is connected more with your exhale than your inhale.
- What happens when you’re breathing is your heartbeat speeds up a little with every inhale, and it slows down when you exhale.
- This is how wearable tech like the iWatch or the Aura ring can measure your respiratory rate without being connected to your lungs or ribs.
- So if you trust your exhale by focusing on it and lengthening it out, you can steer yourself into a relaxed, calm state.
- Research says your exhale should be two and a half times that of your inhale.
- But we know that simply gaining control of your breath is also relaxing.
- Even just counting your breath, or counting how long you inhale and exhale, allows your nervous system to relax.
- One new method discovered in the Huberman Lab at Stanford is a quick double inhale, followed by a long, relaxed exhale.
- Take two quick breaths in, exhale on the long breath out. Do this three times throughout the day to help reduce stress and bring calm.
It’s All In The Nose
- While doing breathing exercises, it’s important that you inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth.
- Breathing through the nose is very protective.
- There are little hairs in there to protect from bacteria and other particles.
- It’s also a much tighter space. If you breathe in through your nose versus your mouth, you can feel the resistance.
- There are also little things called turbinates that warm the air, making it nicer for the lungs.
- Finally, this resistance allows you to use your breathing muscle, your diaphragm, more effectively.
- Breathing out of the mouth allows you to relax.
Ice-ing Out The Stress
- You have a system in your body that was made to adapt to cold and hot. Using this system is very healthy. It’s actually not healthy to remain at room temperature all the time.
- To grow, you have to get outside of your comfort zones and challenge your body’s physiology.
- When you use cold therapy, you are giving your nervous system a nice workout because no matter how hard or long you train, the cold will always be cold–it’s never going to be warm.
- Because of this consistent intensity, you can use cold to train stress. Essentially how do you face stress, experience it, and turn it into calm.
- This shock to your system produces adrenaline, which is very healthy for you if you get it in small doses and are able to recover.
- An easy place to start is a cold shower.
- Don’t step straight into cold water, instead take a normal, warm shower first. Then turn it cold at the end.
- Don’t think about how long you have to stay in the cold, just do breaths. Three long exhales, lengthening them out more and more.
- Work your way up to longer times in the cold, to the point where you can start with the cold and stay the entire time.
- Another way to experience cold therapy is by putting your hands and feet in cold ice buckets.
- Stick them in for thirty seconds and do several rounds.
- Ice baths are great, but they aren’t practical. They require a lot of ice and should always be done with a buddy or a coach.
- Ice baths should be two minutes max so your core temperature doesn’t drop too low.
- Of course, if it’s wintertime and your area experiences cold temperatures just go outside with fewer layers. That’s an easy and inexpensive way to do cold therapy.
- The more you practice cold therapy, the more it helps you learn to bring calm into uncomfortable situations. You can use that during tests, meetings, anything where you are stressed and need to be calm.
- Cold also helps reduce inflammation.
- Researchers are trying to figure out what temperature is best and for how long, which is tricky because everyone is different.
Share With Us
- Take a screenshot of this episode, tag us on social media (@drtrishasmith & @jimkwik), and share if you’ve done–or plan on doing–the cold shower challenge: stay in cold water for three long exhales.
- Check out Doc Trish’s website, here.
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Episode 86: Conquer Your Mind with Wim Hof