1. Adjust your posture
This is a simple one but easy to forget. For the average person, this will mean rolling the shoulders back while allowing for a slight raise of the chin and letting the head slide back an inch or so, putting the ears in alignment with the middle of the shoulder, then relaxing the muscles of the neck and jaw. This takes a great deal of stress off the neck and opens up the thorat more for fuller breathing, thus effecting greater oxygen intake and release of carbon dioxide.
2. Slow deep abdominal breathing
Research has suggested for some time now that the beneficial effects of slow deep abdominal breathing are significant. In activating the parasympathetic nervous system and reducing sympathetic activity, we see a reduction in blood pressure, heart rate and anxiety.[1,2,3] As well studies suggest that a reduction of oxidative stress occurs via a reduced hyperglycemic state after eating. Typically acute hyperglycemia after eating produces free-radicals, which is normal; however with the increased degree of oxidative stress the body has to deal with in modern day living, any reduction of this stress is always a helpful measure. Slow deep abdominal breathing has even been shown to reverse baroreflex sensitivity in diabetics which is thought to be an underlying dysfunction in diabetic cardiovascular autonomic neuropathy.
3. Think thoughts of gratitude and optimism
An immense amount of research exists on the physiological effects of positive thinking and leaving plenty of room for much more to be done. If psychosocial well-being is not enough, the health benefits of positive thinking appear to reach even further, from reducing cortisol to cardiovascular benefits to reducing inflammatory markers, it even shows association with improved sleeping patterns.[6,7,8,9] These areas of associations are also some of the prime players in many chronic disease processes, which become important when thinking about our increased susceptibilities to chronic diseases as we age.
These minor physical and mental adjustments are 3 easy ways to practice good preventative medicine and self-care. They are completely free, no tools or supplies are necessary, are not at all inconvenient and actually transform a potentially inconvenient and aggravating situation into valuable time saved and put to excellent use.