Did you know that a simple breathing exercise could help reduce stress? It’s true. Stay with me and I’ll tell you how.
One of the first things you did when you were born was take a breath. You didn’t even realize you were doing it; it just happened. And for the most part, you’ve been doing it ever since.
At first thought, breathing is elementary. Anybody can do it, everybody does it, and it happens completely naturally. But if you put a little effort in, you can get even more benefits from breathing.
The Benefits of Breathing More Effectively
I know what you’re thinking. What can be more beneficial than simply staying alive? Well, when you make an effort to breathe more efficiently, you do a better job of circulating oxygen to your organs and muscles. This can result in better circulation and performance, and reduced stress—and all of these benefits can contribute to your health and longevity.
Your brain, organs, and muscles all require oxygen to work effectively. When you breathe in, oxygen is circulated in your blood and delivered throughout your body. The same blood picks up carbon dioxide, which is exhaled. Carbon dioxide is the waste produced from oxygen-fueled bodily functions.
Most people, however, only use about 75% of their lung capacity and typically take fast, shallow breaths. By failing to fully use your lung capacity and breathe deeply through the diaphragm, you really aren’t giving yourself the opportunity to take full advantage of one of life’s absolute necessities.
Depending on what you’re doing, your need for oxygen changes. But if you want to avoid huffing and puffing during activities and experience a greater degree of mindfulness, here is a way to improve breathing and boost your oxygen intake and efficiency.
Simple Breathing Exercise to Breathe More Efficiently
First, become aware of your breathing. Pay attention to how your diaphragm contracts and relaxes with each breath. When you breathe in, for example, you should feel it contract as your lungs fill up. It should cause abdominal expansion and even possibly expand your rib cage. If you feel this, you’re taking good-quality breaths!
Draw in air smoothly through the nose until the lungs are full, followed by a brief pause. This might feel rather strange at first, but it should last less than a second and will become second nature before you know it. Following the pause, slowly release the air from your lungs, relaxing your diaphragm to push the air out of your mouth in a smooth and consistent manner. At this point, your abdominal muscles will be completely relaxed for a brief moment before beginning your next inhalation.
By adopting this technique, you can stop stress before it begins, or even use it to calm down during trying times. Practice for 10 to 20 minutes per day and soon enough, you’ll experience all of the benefits of enhanced breathing.
Sources for Today’s Article:
Harvard Medical School, “Relaxation techniques: Breath control helps quell errant stress response,” Harvard Health Publications web site, January 26, 2015; http://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/relaxation-techniques-breath-control-helps-quell-errant-stress-response.
The Chicago Tribune, “Breathe in. Breathe out. But breathe efficiently,” Toronto Star web site, June 23, 2015; http://www.thestar.com/life/health_wellness/2015/06/23/breathe-in-breathe-out-but-breathe-efficiently.html.