“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive, to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love…” — Marcus Aurelius
Did you know that slowing our breathing helps our bodies to calm? Breathing is vital to our nervous system. Doing breathing exercises a few minutes a day can help relax our mind and bodies as well as help us cope and manage our stress and anxiety. We can lower our heart rate and blood pressure, increase our lung capacity, and improve our core muscle stability. Breathing exercises also make it easier for us to access information that we have recently learned or studied. Deep breathing stimulates our parasympathetic nervous system which provides a health benefit, whereas shallow breathing has a negative impact on our physical and mental health and keeps our bodies in a vicious cycle of stress.
- Make yourself comfortable sitting in an armchair, feet placed on the floor, arms on the chair.
- Loosen any clothes that may restrict your breathing.
- Master diaphragm breathing for maximal benefits.
- Breathe in through your nose, hold your breath, then breathe out through your mouth.
- Repeat these four to five times as a starting point and build up from there.
- Practice at least twice a day and use as needed during acute times of anxiety or stress.
Some examples of various breathing techniques include: 4-7-8- breathing, deep breathing, breath focus, equal time breathing in and out, box breath, progressive muscle relaxation, and modified lions’ breath to name a few. Specific techniques on how to perform each style can easily be found online.
When developing a new habit, you need to practice it daily and it should be tailored to your life and needs. You don’t have to tackle everything at once. Instead, identify one small step today that you can take to begin to incorporate it into your daily routine. Commit to setting aside time in your schedule for breathing exercises and make it a priority today!