Dec 15, 2021 Woosah: A personal reminder to take deep breaths when stressed

By: Musola Oniyide, physical therapist, Barnabas Health Ambulatory Care Center

When I was a child I remember watching the movie "Bad Boys 2", starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. During the movie's hilarious scenes, "Woosah" was used to remind aperson to take a deep breath and relax. That movie was action packed with stressful situations the characters had to endure, so the saying was warranted. Although real life is not an action movie, like the characters in this movie we all endure stressful situations and might need to remember "Woosah" as well.

In the movie, Woosah was accompanied with characters taking a deep breath in a stressful situations. All of us have been told before that taking a deep breath is beneficial. However, most of the time we are not told about the benefits of deep breathing, which is the purpose of this article.

Reduces stress

When we encounter stressful situations our body's natural "fight or flight" response is triggered. This is useful for us to respond to dangerous situations. However, when this response in turned on for too long it can result in a prolonged stressed state. Deep breathing helps activate your body's "rest and digest" response which is the opposite of "fight or flight". This helps stimulate your body to relax and not remained stressed.

Reduces Perception of pain

While in a "fight or flight" state the increase in stress is accompanied with an increase of pain perception. This is very important to note since according to the CDC (Center for Disease Control) about 20% of adults in the US struggle with chronic pain. Other people may find that they experience neck or back pain while stressed. This pain can negatively impact our participation in our jobs, chores, or recreational activities. Like stated before deep breathing activates the "rest and digest" response, but in regards to pain it helps reduce our perception of our pain. Thus, removing this barrier for you to participate in activities you want and need to do.

Reduces Heart Rate

According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control) almost half of American adults (47%) have hypertension. When a person experiences stress, the "fight or flight" response triggers an increase in heart rate which in turn increases a person's blood pressure. It is important to maintain safe blood pressure levels especially if hypertension is present. Deep breathing techniques are a useful tool for stabilizing one's heart rate. As the "rest and digest" response is triggered a reduction in heart rate occurs.

Hopefully, these facts are useful for you. Most importantly, my hope is that when you are stressed and remember "Woosah" you also remember the benefits of taking a deep breathing.

Musola’s Bio

Musola Oniyide is a physical therapist at the Barnabas Health Ambulatory Care Center in Livingston with a focused interest in the study of pain science. His primary goal with his patients is to optimize their function so that they can live their best lives. Whenever he is not doing that he is drawing, completing home workout programs, reading graphic novels, playing video games, reading books related to religion & philosophy, or traveling the world.

The Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center Rehabilitation centers are open and ready to help you achieve your goals. With four locations in West Orange, Millburn and Livingston, the experienced and compassionate staff at Cooperman Barnabas Rehabilitation offers adults and children the specialized care they need to resume an active life after surgery, injury or illness. They are committed to providing patients with the most advanced services in a safe, caring and soothing environment. For high-risk patients who are unable to visit in person, telehealth is an option. Patients do not need a prescription for physical therapy services.

For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call 973-322-7500.