When it comes to breathing, I'm sure you think you're a natural. However, why is it that the common breath, this essential, life-giving function, is so underrated?
Why is it that when a friend suggests, in a moment of crisis, that we ‘just take a deep breath’, we find ourselves clenching our fists in irritation? Breathe… breathe… just breathe. Surely there’s a more valid solution to our problems, one that involves more hard work perhaps?
Surprisingly, the answer is ‘no’; in times of anxiety, stress, hurt or confusion there really is no better remedy than a simple, deep breath.
During moments of high stress, perhaps in a particularly tense meeting with your boss, during an argument with your spouse, or even in an interview, we experience a strong physical reaction. Our heart rate rapidly speeds up, our breathing becomes shallow and we can freeze up; as adrenaline courses through our bodies.
This dramatic reaction is produced by our sympathetic nervous system; the system responsible for our fight-or-flight instincts when faced with ‘danger'.
Whilst we may no longer face the same dangers our ancestors faced before us, woolly mammoths, starvation, saber-toothed tigers, there are still countless daily stresses capable of bringing out in us these same primal fight-or-flight reactions.
If during a moment of panic or distress someone has told you to calm your nerves with a ‘deep breath’, they would have been correct to do so. When you breathe deeply, you are in fact helping to stimulate the bodies second nervous system, the parasympathetic nervous system, which when exposed to increased oxygen, slows down the heart rate. This, as a result, lessons feelings of anxiety, helping you return to a more relaxed, neutral state.
It’s all in the science and you can’t argue with that!
When your head’s in a spin, you’re anxious, afraid or just plain stressed, a deep breath should keep you centered.
When you’re focused on the breath, you’re not fretting over what’s just happened… you’re not thinking about the bad news you’ve just been given, the argument you’ve just had or the hurt you’ve just endured. You’re not anxious about the future… you do not have to concern yourself with the whens, the how’s or whys.
In that single moment, you are just your breath; the breath that lets you know you’re still here, still alive and that for now, everything is ok. When you’re struggling to keep your mind from straying back into the past or lurching ahead into the future; use your breath to keep you grounded, here, in the moment that matters most. In the NOW.
Sure, a solitary breath isn’t going to fix all of your problems. But the one thing it is guaranteed to make you do… is FEEL GOOD.
When life gets hard and you’re at a loss for what to do, your biggest priority should be to simply feel good. Why? Because you need to begin shifting the negative energies that have begun piling up around you, by replacing them with immediate, more positive ones.
A deep breath is the quickest and most instantaneous way to do this.
Feeling the strain? Remember the impact of a single deep breath, and begin getting into the practice of regularly using deep breathing exercises for stress-free, more awesome living.
Here’s a simple breathing exercise to get you started. Anyone can reap the benefits of a deep breath no matter where they are or what they are doing, so enjoy!
Just like when you exercise, deep breathing can also cause endorphins to be released into the body. Endorphins cause us to feel good and it can also act as pain relief too. When you breathe, your diaphragm moves up and down, and this movement helps remove toxins from our organs too.
Endorphins are feel-good hormones and if you can practice deep breathing each day it can really help you to reduce stress, feel more positive and relax your mind and body.
If you are feeling anxious, stressed, worries or angry, your body can tense up, which can cause your muscles to get tight. Feeling like this can also cause your breathing to become shallow too. When your breathing is shallow, this can cause your body to stop getting enough oxygen.
This is why deep breathing can be very good for you. Even if you are feeling tense, start to practice some deep breathing exercise and you should see that you begin to feel less tense and much more relaxed. This is better for you AND your body.
1. Take a deep breath in through the nose, really filling your lungs and feeling the diaphragm expand. Hold this for 4 seconds.
2. Release the breath through your mouth, like you’re letting out a big sigh.
3. You’re all done! Repeat as often as you need to.
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