Oxa Podcast. Episode #1. Dave Wood: Breathing To Get Stress Under Control

In this episode, we talk with Dave Wood about stress and how breathing can be leveraged to get stress levels under control.

Dave is a renowned specialist in stress mitigation, recovery and mental preparedness, having built his expertise on his experience as intensive care paramedic and professional ocean lifeguard in New Zealand.

He takes us through the body's natural stress response, the role of the amygdala and autonomic nervous system, and how these influence our breathing patterns in stressful situations.

In the hectic world we live in, Dave explains the criticality of getting stress under control by reinstating balance between the stimulation of our sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. 

By the end of this episode, you will know which breathing practices to adopt in your daily life to get stress under control and be ready to reap the long-term benefits of it!

Stress and its effects

  • Stress is a natural response to challenges that causes the body to upregulate systems like heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Chronic stress can lead to agitation, difficulty focusing, irritability, energy fluctuations, poor sleep, and lifestyle diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
  • Chronic stress manifests through tension headaches, lower back pain, gut issues, and skin problems.

Managing stress

  • To manage stress, prioritize shifting into the recovery part of the nervous system through relaxation techniques.
  • Constant screen stimulus affects focus and creates multitasking habits, leading to stress.
  • Balancing the nervous system involves integrating practices like meditation, nature, social interaction, exercise, and sleep hygiene into daily life.
  • Top-down stress control involves intercepting psychological stress through internal dialogue, while bottom-up control involves tapping into body systems that regulate stress.
  • Training the nervous system to shift from an upregulated to a downregulated state is essential for well-being and performance.

Learn More: Discover the Best Alternatives to Meditation for Inner Peace in 2024

Pillars of health and performance

  • The pillars of health and performance (exercise, nature, social interaction, sleep, nutrition, and stress control) are crucial for creating a more parasympathetic tone and balancing the nervous system.
  • Reconnecting with nature is a powerful form of stress control, activating the parasympathetic division and flushing stress hormones.
  • Being in nature and social interaction are key factors for reducing stress and improving well-being.
  • Consuming nutritious food maintains energy levels and reduces stress.

Breathing mechanics and stress management

  • Breathing mechanics play a crucial role in stress management.
  • Proper breathing techniques, such as diaphragmatic breathing and lateral expansion of the ribcage, can activate the body's calming division.
  • Consciously connected breathing and cadence breathing are effective techniques for eliciting a calm state. Prolonging the exhale activates the parasympathetic nervous system.
  • While breathing practices are important, addressing the mind's state is equally essential for effective stress management.

Dave Wood's breathing practice

  • Dave Wood suggests a simple breathing practice to regulate stress and pressure.
  • The practice involves lying down, inhaling for a few seconds, holding the breath at the top for a few seconds, and then exhaling slowly while relaxing the chest, shoulders, and jaw.
  • Practicing this breathing technique for just a few minutes can induce a sense of calm.
  • Find a quiet space and practice the breathing exercise for two to three minutes to experience a noticeable shift in mental and physical state.

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Today's episode is sponsored by Oxa, the pioneering breathing wearable that offers instant biofeedback, serving as your personal guide to improved sleep and stress reduction. Oxa continuously monitors vital signs such as heart rate and breathing patterns, devising customized breathing strategies aimed at managing stress and enhancing sleep quality.

Mathieu Chaffard
May 28, 2024

A French biomedical engineer trained at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, is at the forefront of health technology as the Digital Health Innovation Manager at Roche Diagnostics. As a passionate podcaster, Mathieu hosts the Oxa Podcast, where he explores the impact of breathwork on health with leading experts. His work bridges cutting-edge medical technology with practical, life-enhancing discussions aimed at a global audience.

Ready to begin?

Get the Oxa Sensor and your choice of garment - lounge-wear shirt, bra, or adjustable chest strap. Your purchase includes access to the Oxa app which gives personalized data summaries and insights, as well as access to breathing exercises to teach you how to harness the power of your own breath.