We cannot pretend our world is going to slow down anytime soon and you are probably in the middle of a move or renovation. On the average, we take about 17,000 breaths a day. Sounds easy enough, right? If we’re honest, though, how many of us have thought about our breathing today? Because it’s so innate to daily living, we don’t think about it. There is value in pausing to take note of this elemental pillar of health. Lots of people breathe using only the top portion of their lungs without even realizing it. Those shallow breaths don’t give a body the oxygen it needs to thrive. However, taking some deep breaths can reset the body physically and can take a person out of a stressful situation. Now for the good news: You can start breathing better right now and you don’t have to have a fancy gadget or a gym membership to make this change. All that is required of you is more conscious inhale, then exhale. Repeat.
Are you breathing properly? Lie down and put an object (your cell phone works fine) on your belly. When you breathe, is the object moving up and down? If it is, way to go! That means you are using your diaphragm for every breath. The diaphragm is what pushes the belly in and out—that’s why deep breathing is sometimes called belly breathing.
Practice breathing deeply. Keep the object of your belly, and as you inhale, push it up toward the ceiling. Inhale for two seconds. When you exhale imagine you are blowing out birthday candles for two seconds. When you can easily do a two-second inhale and exhale, increase to three seconds.
Anywhere. Anytime. You can work on your breathing no matter where you are or what you are doing. Sometimes a deep breath can be the difference between getting stuck in a stressful moment and finding calm on the other side.
-While sitting at a red light -While waiting on your coffee
-Before you board a flight -With the kids at bedtime
-In Line at the grocery store -While on hold during a call
Short, shallow breaths trigger what’s knows as the fight or flight response. Staying in the mode is physically draining your energy. You can break this cycle by improving the quality of the breaths you take. Over time you’ll find deep breathing makes it easier to relax and have a clear state of mind, even when you have a lot on your plate.