Isn’t it crazy that it seems like a full time job just to be healthy these days? There’s so much to do! Go to the gym every day, eat all that kale, do an hour of meditation, and don’t forget to charge your Fitbit! Here’s something simple. After all, sometimes it is the simplest things that have the most impact. Try relaxed, deep, slow breathing.
You probably are thinking, “This must be for other people. I already know how to breathe”. But do you?
From when we are first born, our body knows how to breathe properly. Our body (unless afflicted with disease) can quite properly breathe in and out without conscious thought, just like our heart beats without ever thinking about it. Breathing is different though, because unlike the heart, we learn from an early age how to consciously control our breathing. I would hold my breath to get my way as a kid, or take deep, forceful breaths to blow up a balloon.
Unconsciously, our body changes its breathing when we face a threat. We start breathing shallowly and more quickly. While this might help our bodies in preparation for fighting/fleeing, it has some bad long-term effects from carbon dioxide imbalances and lower blood oxygen. Many people who are feeling continually stressed out or anxious breathe this way much of the time.
In just a matter of seconds, you can pause what you are doing, close your eyes and simply take a few relaxed, deep, slow breaths.
Want to change your breathing pattern more long term? Try setting a chime on your phone or watch to go off every hour for a day, and each time check how you’re breathing. Is it relaxed, deep, slow breathing using the diaphragm, or (like I used to) breathing using the upper chest muscles? If the latter, " by changing your automatic breathing patterns. Because it is unconscious, correction needs some dedication to breathing exercises and attention over a long period of time, until your body becomes used to the new pattern. But once your breathing is corrected, you not only become more resilient in the face of stress, but you see other health benefits as well.
Take a deep breath for me!
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