Several years ago I woke up each morning with what felt like a 25 pound weight on my chest. It was a constant, ugly reminder that I struggled with anxiety.
To relax, I would breathe deep and slow, but wasn’t getting much relief. Like most people, I didn’t know how to truly breathe deep.
You would think breathing comes naturally, but in our culture of rushing, demands, fear, and stress we find ourselves trying to sustain life with shallow, lifeless breaths that actually increase tension and anxiety.
Believe it or not, breathing has a large impact on your health and chances are you’re doing it all wrong.
Take your left hand and place it on your chest. Seriously. Do it. Now take your right hand and place it between your belly button and sternum (breastbone). Sit up straight or lie down and take a deep breath. Which hand moves more? Do they both move equally?
Benefits of Deep Breathing
- Slow your heart rate and ease anxiety
- Regulate the flow of oxygen and carbon-dioxide
- Boost your immune system
- Be fully present
How to Practice Mindful Breathing
- Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit or lie down.
- Try to alter your breathing so only your right hand moves (over your stomach).
- Slow down your breathing to 8-10 cycles per minute.
- One cycle consists of one inhale and one exhale.
- Begin breathing by inhaling through your nose (4-6 count).
- Exhale slowly through your nose or mouth (4-6 count).
- To take it a step farther by blending deep breathing with one or more of the following:
- Positive imagery
- Focus word
- Phrase that helps you relax
The key here is practice. Yes, practicing deep breathing. It will become easier and easier with each session, but until then, consciously practice deep, relaxing breaths for a few moments each day.
Did you give it try? We would love to hear from you! Share your experience in the comments below.