Hello Zen, Goodbye Bad Breath: How Stress Affects Your Breath
Stress can be deadly. It raises blood pressure, causes an imbalance of hormones, wreaks havoc on the adrenal glands, and – on top of it all – can lead to bad breath.
Most of what we consider to be “bad breath” is actually the presence of “volatile sulfur compounds” (more commonly abbreviated as VSC’s). These molecular compounds are the by-product of bacteria that live in your mouth. These little buggers cause halitosis, periodontal disease, and a host of other oral issues.
So where does stress come in? Well it turns out that these harmful bacteria love a dry environment. More specifically, they hate oxygen. And your saliva is packed with naturally-occurring oxygen. So the drier your mouth, the less oxygen there is, the more these bugs flourish, and the more they release stinky VSC’s. And stress reduces the production of saliva. (Yikes…)
You see, our bodies basically have two “modes” that we switch between:
- “Fight or flight”
- “Rest and digest”
When one is active, the other is not. So if you are chronically stressed out, this keeps your body in a state of “fight or flight,” always ready to respond to incoming “threats,” whether that is a saber tooth tiger, or a impending deadline at work. When your body is feeling stressed, it conserves energy by turning off certain digestive functions – like the production of saliva.
Stress Relieving Tips
- Move. Exercise (whether easy-going or high-intense) is a fantastic way to reduce your stress levels. Getting physically active will flood your brain with endorphins which will improve your mood and bring a euphoric sensation through your body. So go for a run, practice some yoga, swim, do Tai Chi in the park, lift weights, or walk your dog. Get moving and feel the stress melt away.
- Meditate. Find a quiet spot in the house or outside. Set the time on your phone for 15-20 minutes. And just sit in silence. Allow your mind to settle. Your thoughts will be going crazy at first, but stay present. Your mind has an extraordinary ability to self-clear. Picture a bowl of mirky water. If the water is left alone, the debris will naturally settle and the water becomes clear. Your mind is the same way. Meditation is the practice of giving your mind the uninterrupted space it needs to settle itself and become clear. It’s rather simple. Just stay with it.
- Use aromatherapy to calm your nerves. Smelling essentials oils, such as lavender, will trigger stress-relieving mechanisms in your brain. Consider purchasing an essential oil diffuser to fill the room with a calming scent.
- Get outside. Simply spending time in nature is a wonderful way to clear your head and relax.
- Do something fun. Whether that is riding your bike, watching a funny movie, hanging out with your best friend, coloring, or reading – it can be helpful to get your mind away from concerns and into things you enjoy.
We Want to Know…
What are your favorite ways to calm down and get rid of stress?