Are You Breathing Properly?
Breathing affects all of our bodily systems, feelings, and moods in profound ways. In an age where most of us are in a constant state of anxiety—an over-activation of the sympathetic nervous system— breathing properly can provide a healthy, quick and relatively easy way of reducing anxiety, restlessness, and stress.
By activating the parasympathetic nervous system, breathing properly promotes inner calm and physical relaxation.
The brain uses up to three times as much oxygen as our muscles do.
Breathing properly increases the oxygen in our blood stream, making more oxygen available to our brains. This improves brain function, which translates to more physical energy, mental clarity, and greater productivity. And who couldn’t use a little more of those?
By learning to direct your attention to your breath, you can condition yourself to shift out of stressful, depressed, and aggressive states and enter relaxed, calm, and resourceful mental states.
The short-term benefits are pretty obvious. You will become better equipped at handling difficult situations, managing conflicts, and maintaining focus while you work. Effective breathing improves your body’s response to stress. As a result its long-term benefits include longevity and a higher quality of life.
Here’s a quick breathing test:
Place your left hand over your navel and your right hand over your chest.
Breathe normally (however you usually breathe without thinking about it).
Which hand(s) is moving? Left, right, or both?
If the hand over your chest is moving, you probably have a shallow breath. That is, you’re drawing insufficient oxygen when you breathe. This leads to fatigue and increases the chances of feeling anxiety.
If the hand over your navel is moving, you’re probably breathing properly. This is called diaphragmatic breathing.
To breathe from your belly, you need to expand and contract your diaphragm, which provides more oxygen to your lungs.
If both hands are moving while you breathe, you probably have a combination of the two.
Check out the video below for and in no time at all be on your way to better breathing! Watch all the way to the end for a simple breathing exercise to help release some of that stress at the end of the day.
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