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Finding Motivation, Interoception & Nose vs Mouth Breathing

🤸‍♀️ Stretch 28

This edition is all about self-awareness. Physical, physiological, and psychological awareness. Probably the most important skills you can develop within yourself.

As famed psychoanalyst Carl Jung said, “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”

🤸‍♀️ IN THIS WEEK'S STRETCH:

  • Finding & sustaining motivation. Where most people go wrong.

  • Interoception. Your eighth sensory system worth cultivating.

  • Nose vs. mouth breathing. The mouth is simply a backup ventilation system (+ my upcoming experiments.)

  • Nervous System Mastery. A 5-week online course designed to teach you the fundamentals of your nervous system.

🧠 FINDING & SUSTAINING MOTIVATION FOR CREATIVITY

In my mind, when it comes to executing ideas, most people struggle with taking action and sustaining motivation—not because they don't have the ideas or the skills, but because they've skipped a key step: analyzing their thoughts.

Thoughts ➝ Feelings ➝ Actions/Inactions ➝ Results

Without a basic level of self-awareness, it's impossible to know what matters to you, where you're self-sabotaging, and how your feelings are driving what you do and don't do. These are questions you need to answer before you throw yourself into something new and challenging (which is key if you want to keep growing and learning!)

🔻 Read the full post 🔻

🕵️‍♀️ INTEROCEPTION - YOUR EIGHTH SENSORY SYSTEM

Our thoughts are just one piece of the awareness puzzle. As modern humans, we tend to overemphasize our brain as the central driver of the 'self' and the body-to-brain signaling has long been underrated.

As a result, we've completely lost touch with our physical bodies. They’ve become these vessels we feed and (kinda) take care of. We barely understand how they work. (Up until last year, I had no idea there was such a thing as a parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system!)

Yet our bodies send us clear signals when we need a break. Fidgetiness, hunger, drowsiness. Mostly, we override them. We keep eating even though we’re full. We watch another Netflix episode even though we're dead tired. We find artificial ways to pump up our energy.

So again, it comes down to awareness.

And that's where Interoception comes in—our so-called "eighth sensory system". Interoception is the sense of our bodies' internal state; our capacity to accurately detect and interpret bodily cues. A sense we all have access to but, for most of us, has been neglected and has faded from consciousness.

I've now become committed to strengthening this sense because I have seen the difference it has made for me in terms of managing my energy levels, my stress levels, and just overall appreciation for my body. Three areas I'm focusing on:

  • Emotional regulation

  • Embodied exercise

  • Non-Sleep-Deep-Rest

🔻Read the full post 🔻

👃 NOSE VERSUS MOUTH BREATHING - THE CORRECT WAY TO BREATHE

Our breath is a key interoceptive sensation, and it's intriguing to start paying attention to how you breathe (especially when looking at screens.)

“If I had to limit my advice on healthier living to just one tip, it would be simply to learn how to breathe correctly.” - Andrew Weil, MD

And as it turns out, breathing correctly = nose breathing.

From last week's poll, 88% said they breathe through their nose (I should've known Stretch readers are a healthy bunch 🥰)

I had no idea there is such a big difference between nose and mouth breathing. I thought it was an either or kinda thing.

Turns out, the only reason we have evolved to be able to breathe through two channels is to increase our chances of survival. Should the nose get obstructed, the mouth becomes a backup ventilation system.

But that’s all the mount was meant to be: backup. Breathing through our mouth has no specific functions or advantages.

Our nose, on the other hand, is designed for breathing, and that’s obvious in the long list of advantages:

  • Warming & humidifying: Nose breathing supports the respiratory system by warming and humidifying inhaled air, protecting the airways from irritation and dehydration. Air entering the nose at 42.8˚F/6˚C will be warmed to 86˚F/30˚C by the time it touches the back of the throat, and a cozy 98.6˚F/37˚C—body temperature—upon reaching its final destination, the lungs.

  • Filtering: Nasal breathing removes a significant amount of germs and bacteria from the air you breathe in.

  • Stronger airways: Mouth breathing transforms airways for the worse, making breathing more difficult by causing the soft tissues in the back of the mouth to become loose and flex inward. Inhaling from the nose has the opposite effect. It forces air against all those flabby tissues at the back of the throat, making the airways wider and breathing easier. After a while, these tissues and muscles get “toned” to stay in this open and wide position.

  • Diaphragm breathing: Nasal breathing engages the diaphragm muscle, stabilizing the core, and improving stamina, while mouth breathing relies more on upper-chest breathing and is more likely to be associated with a stress response.

  • Nitric Oxide Boost: Nasal breathing also boosts nitric oxide (NO), a gas produced in the sinuses that helps increase circulation and deliver oxygen to cells. This has a huge impact on things like immune function, weight, mood, and physical performance. Plus, breathing through your nose can boost NO six times more than breathing through your mouth, which means you can absorb a lot more oxygen.

Fascinating stuff. Here are a few more ways I'm diving deeper into this over the next few weeks:

  • Mouth taping: I know I rarely breathe through my mouth during the day. But how about during the night? I was convinced I don't breathe through my mouth while sleeping until I read that one of the signs is... waking up with a dry mouth. Damn it. I’ll now try out mouth-taping at night. Yeah, you read that right. All in the name of citizen science. 🤐 I shall report back to you soon.

  • Exercise regime from The Oxygen Advantage: This book has taught me a lot about the importance of proper breathing during exercise. I love running, and nasal breathing is the latest performance-enhancing hack for runners. The book is full of breathing and training exercises designed to increase exercise intensity while expending less effort and breathing less heavily (I'm a heavy mouth breather during running, so curious to see if and how this will affect my runs.)

  • Huberman Lab Ep 'How to Breathe Correctly for Optimal Health, Mood, Learning & Performance': My absolute #1 resource to learn about my physiology. 

 🫁 COURSE: NERVOUS SYSTEM MASTERY

If you find all this interoception and proper breathing stuff fascinating, you will like Nervous System Mastery, an online course by Jonny Miller.

This five-week boot camp will equip you with evidence-backed protocols to cultivate greater calm + agency over your internal state. During the training, you will learn how to rewire maladaptive stress responses, increase your capacity for focus + improve the quality of your sleep. Applications close on April 3.

I took the course last year and can highly recommend it. I mean—a group of curious people from all over the world, eager to learn about their minds and bodies? What's not to love?

Thanks for reading!

I'm experimenting with the timing of when I send out this newsletter (aka I wasn't ready in time.) I'm curious, do you care which days you receive this newsletter on?

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