The 4 Daily Do's are foundational practices & behaviors
to establish/maintain during the grieving process.
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Where do I start?
There are a myriad of health benefits to nasal breathing including better oxygenation which aids self-regulation of the nervous system.
Mouth breathing, especially when done chronically, activates the sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system...giving the body/brain the signal that we are in danger. Nasal breathing taps into the parasympathetic nervous system...giving the safety signal.
During the grieving process it is vitally important for the nervous system to feel safe. It can be difficult during times of distress to self-regulate; however, nasal breathing can be a simple yet effective way to access calming of the nervous system.
We want nasal breathing to be our default/organic mode of respiration but if you find yourself mouth breathing or feeling anxious or breathing rapidly, here are two different nasal breathing practices to encourage self-sedation & regulation:
- Box Breathing
- Alternate Nostril Breathing
The importance of sunlight on the skin for the synthesis of vitamin D is a pretty well-known phenomenon. But less know, and of equal importance, is how necessary an adequate amount of sunlight in the eyes is for overall function.
Getting safe sunlight exposure to the eyes is required for setting your circadian rhythm...and the circadian rhythm effects many other processes in addition to sleep cycles. It is also an integral part of hormone regulation, immune and digestive system function...all of which affect mood as well as overall health.
Sunlight is optimally viewed outside** (even with cloud cover) morning and evening for 2-10 minutes because of the solar angle and this ensures the eyes receive the most potent dose of photon energy. Viewing sunlight through a window (especially those made with modern-day UV blockers) takes 50-100 times longer to get the amount needed.
**do not stare directly at the sun...simply go outside to safely expose the eyes
Walking is a baseline human movement...as Katy Bowman says in her book Move Your DNA walking is a biological imperative. But not all walking is the same. Walking on a treadmill is beneficial in many ways particularly when factors do not allow doing it outdoors. However, walking outside has effects that cannot be replicated on a treadmill.
The overall value of walking cannot be overstated but there are 3 reasons why it is of the utmost importance during the grieving process:
- Breath of Fresh Air--This may seem trite but it's true. The air outside is different than the air inside.
- Panoramic Vision--Spending time indoors narrows our visual field especially when spending time on devices/in front of screens and can lead to our minds & thoughts narrowing as well. Going outside for a walk widens our visual field and opens the mind.
- Self-Generated Optic Flow--Perhaps the most striking difference between walking outside versus on a treadmill. When locomoting overground, you are not only moving your body but also creating movements of the eyes as things go past that directly impact the brain. Essentially, self-generated optic flow is a way to sedate the mind and is best achieved walking outdoors.
Sleep is highly regenerative and can significantly increase resiliency. Good sleep habits are a vital component in balancing stress hormones. Each person's required quantity of sleep is unique but quality of sleep is equally, if not more, important than the amount.
The other Daily Do's contribute to improved quality of sleep. Nasal Breathing while sleeping keeps the body & brain well-oxygenated and alleviates apnea. Viewing Sunlight helps to set the clock by dialing in the circadian rhythm. And Walking Outside gives your eyes (and, therefore, your nervous system) much needed input for producing self-sedating hormones as well as being of overall benefit to the body.
Some suggestions to aid getting sufficient sleep are avoiding light/screens from around 10p-4a and establishing a bedtime routine to set up the brain for rest (this includes going to bed around the same time every night).