This week’s tip comes from a health promoter and involves something we do ~23,040 times per day, yet rarely notice we are doing it—BREATHING!
We know that breathing is an essential activity to keep our body alive, allowing oxygen to enter and waste to be eliminated (seventy percent of waste is eliminated from your lungs just by breathing!) But what we often don’t consider is that beyond the “basics,” , breathing can have a VAST array of incredibly beneficial effects inside our body, and is a powerful tool we can learn to leverage in our daily lives to improve our health and wellbeing!
Deep breathing has been cited as one of the easiest ways to improve your mental and physical health. Deep breathing practices have been around for thousands of years, and go by many names, such as “diaphragmatic breathing,” “belly breathing,” and “paced breathing” to name a few. Numerous parts of the body are affected by deep breathing including the heart, brain, lungs, muscles, digestive system, immune system, and nervous system. Research is showing that it may even affect our gene pool.
Many of the positive effects of deep breathing are mediated through strong connections to our nervous system, particularly the parasympathetic nervous system, which is in charge of the “rest and digest” processes in our body. Through this connection, deep breathing can help reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and certain pains while improving mood, energy, and focus. It can help lower our blood pressure, improve sleep quality, aid in proper digestion, and improve the immune response in the body.
Additionally, it can help regulate cortisol, curbing the negative effects that occur when too much of this “stress hormone” is released. The list of benefits goes on and on! Some physicians have even found deep breathing to be a helpful treatment tactic for certain conditions such as asthma, heart failure, COPD, PTSD, depression, and anxiety.
If you want to hear more about the healing powers of breathing, check out this TEDx Talk with Max Strom, author of “A Life Worth Breathing”. He’ll unravel more of the benefits of breathing, and walk you through a simple “do anywhere” breathing exercise at the end! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Lb5L-VEm34
Now that you know the benefits, you may be wondering “So…how do I do it?” Check out this video to walk you through the “how-to” of deep breathing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Ua9bOsZTYg
NeuroZone Therapy (neurozonetherapy.com) is an excellent source where you can learn and be taught proper breathing, under the care of a Relaxation Therapist and Certified Stress Management Coach. Did you know that your regular breathing pattern could very likely be screwing up your body and its functions in a bunch of different ways?
Yup. Without knowing it, you might be messing up your sleep, mood, digestion, heart, nervous system, muscles, brain, and even the development of your teeth and face structure.
On the flip side are all the benefits to be had from learning how to breathe correctly. These include more energy, better health, decreased anxiety, improved focus and concentration, decrease fear, improved communication in relationships, and just an overall happier feeling towards life in general.
Breathe relaxed ( everything can be done better from a relaxed state of mind):
No matter what you want to do, you’ll do it better if you’re relaxed. Since your breathing reflects your thoughts and feelings, situations that make you feel tense also lead to tense and stressed breathing pattern. That way of breathing then leads to a lack of oxygen which, in turn, makes your body and brain even more stressed.
By taking control of your breathing and making it more relaxed, your body ”tunes in” and becomes relaxed as well, which leads to better functioning in general.
When your body is relaxed, your health is good, and your energy is high, it becomes easier to be happy and loving toward yourself and others.
Create Recurring ”Breath Check Triggers”:
Choose five naturally occurring triggers to remind you to become aware of your breath every day.
Formulate them as “If → Then plans” and spread them out throughout your day. Here are a few examples:
- If my alarm clock goes off → Then I will check my breathing.
- If I’ve put the last dish in the dishwasher → Then I will check my breathing.
- If I sit down at my desk → Then I will check my breathing.
- If I close my car door → Then I will check my breathing.
- If I turn off my bedroom light → Then I will check my breathing.
If you find it helpful, you can also use reminders like post-it notes or phone alarms to remind you. The important thing is you pause and adjust your breathing pattern several times every day.
Correct breathing means you breathe in a way that is physiologically optimal for your body. It’s the way you were designed to breathe; only you were never taught how to.
If you’re like most people, your breathing pattern likely has some issues like, for example, over-breathing, chest breathing, and holding your breath.
Breathing habits like these lead to a shortage of oxygen and energy and are very stressful to the body.
The solution to these issues is to become acutely aware of the way you breathe and then consciously reshape the way you breathe.
Sounds pretty good, right? Let’s investigate what proper breathing is and how you can use it to optimize your health, well-being, and performance.
So take a few minutes to “just properly breathe” today! The excellent news is that the research shows it doesn’t take that long—as little as 30 seconds of deep breathing can have positive effects! Making time for proper deep breathing throughout your day has been found to be especially beneficial, with a good goal to work towards of at least 10-20 minutes total each day. Start small and work your way up!
I promise you, your mind and body will definitely thank you!