WELLNESS--We all have access to our breath but it’s so easy to forget to use it. How many of you notice that you are simply forgetting to breathe throughout the day, or not breathing deeply and completely? The benefits of breathing put it at the very top of the list of self-care activities needed to stay healthy, and it’s free!
The breathing we are talking about here is diaphragmatic breathing or belly breathing by inhaling completely through the nose to fill the lungs and diaphragm and exhaling out the mouth. Ten minutes or more of this type of breathing will give you the most bang for your buck.
Breathing makes us calmer. Stopping during the day to breath deeply for at least 10 minutes slows down the heart rate and calms our mind so that we can focus on the issues at hand. Also, short shallow breathing can prevent the body from getting the oxygen it needs while deep breathing detoxifies our systems. The increase in oxygen that we take in during deep breathing helps to oxygenate and detoxify the lungs and blood.
There is also some evidence that deep breathing can help with pain. It’s not clear if the relief is due to a drop in anxiety, which in turn helps the patient focus less on the pain, or if there is an actual decrease in the pain response. Either way, having health care providers teach their patients about deep breathing and how to do it can have benefits extending beyond the pain response.
Breathing makes you happy. When we take some time during the day to focus on our breathing we instantly feel more present, less stressed, and more happy! There are studies indicating that deep breathing techniques can be a great adjunct to a treatment protocol for depression.
Setting an alarm on our phones is a great way to remind us to breath throughout the day. Once we start paying attention to our breath, it is surprising how often we are doing shallow lung breathing only or actually forgetting to breathe all together for short periods of time.
Many people find it easiest to have a set time during the day that they sit and breathe. A morning and evening session is often the most effective way, but if you are in a high stress job, taking time throughout the day to breath can also benefit. By sitting in a quiet space in your home or office and breathing you are also meditating.
That’s really all there is to it, so make time for yourself and set aside 10 minutes a day to begin, and start your deep breathing exercises.