Breathing. We do it all day every day without thinking twice about it, yet it’s crucial to our survival. The autonomic nervous system regulates it for us so that we don’t forget to do it, but is autopilot breathing really the best way? While yes it does serve a purpose, bringing your awareness to the way you breathe has heaps of benefit.
There’s more to the breath than may meet the eye though… Ever notice something so captivating it takes your breath away? Or you’re comforting someone upset and they’re unable to breathe between sobs? Perhaps you’re focusing intensely on something and you realize that you’re holding your breath? Your breathing is a very good indicator of the state you’re in.
When you find yourself distracted, bringing your attention to your breathing can help to calm any anxiety and refocus yourself. Counting through the inhalation and exhalation ensuring they are of equal length or beginning with a count of three on your inhale & exhale, then working up to a count of ten for each are both great ways to control the breath and as a result, the mind. Another is the three part breath: first inhale to fill the belly, then pause. Take air into the mid-lungs before pausing again. Finally fill the upper lungs all the way up to your collarbone and hold the breath for a moment. Release the breath in the same order: belly, mid-lungs, then chest. Repeat this breath for several minutes. Whenever the mind wanders, consciously bring it back to the breath. All of these are great ways to help fall asleep at night!
Slow, deep breathing allows the body to deliver more oxygen throughout the body and balances the nervous system, hence the calming effect. We tend to breathe shallowly into the chest when stressed (the fight or flight response), though expanding the belly upon inhalations triggers a calmed feeling & is an effective way to breathe. Make it a habit to take a few deep breaths when you’re sitting in traffic or waiting in a line-up. Soon enough you’ll find yourself doing it without thinking, improving your overall health inadvertently!
Five minutes is a mere 0.35% of your day. Take a few to do something healthy for your body, bring your heart rate down & destress yourself. No special equipment needed, you don’t have to go anywhere, simply close your eyes, sit up straight and do something that’s so necessary to sustaining yourself anyways.