To both relieve stress and centered your mind, I think it’s important to also touch on how breathing impacts our body and health. Beyond just breathing techniques, there’s a lot that breathing plays into the mind, aside from the fact that we need it to survive.
To summarize, this is what happens when you have poor breathing habits (yes, that’s a thing, believe it or not).
- You lose out on your most important source of energy.
- You get hungrier, especially for junk food and sweets.
- Your body suffers from a lack of efficient oxygen, which negatively affects your “free radicals” and can increase your chances of long-term illnesses.
- You feel more stressed, which reduces your body’s ability to fight off illness.
- Your body’s lymphatic system functions badly, so it can’t eliminate toxins as efficiently as it should.
- Even your thinking is impaired.
So, now you’re scratching your head and saying, “how should I breathe?” Well, there’s plenty of breathing exercises that you can make use of. Some are designed to cleanse your body; some to reduce your stress; and so on.
But before looking at exercises, let’s first just take a brief look at your breathing habits.
Check Your Breathing
The best way to check your breathing, is honestly to stand in front of a mirror and take a deep breath in. Notice what happens. I want you to look at all of these things:
- What happened to your shoulders (did they rise or stay still)?
- What happened to your chest (did it rise high or stay still)?
- What happened to your stomach (did it go in, stay still or expand)?
From there, here’s what you should do next…
- Stand in front of a mirror.
- First, breathe out —empty your lungs.
- Take in a deep breath, and notice what happens to your shoulders, chest and stomach.
- Again, empty your lungs and again notice what happens to your shoulders, chest and stomach.
- Repeat this as many times as you need to notice what’s happening.
Correct Your Breathing
If you’ve ever watched a baby sleeping on its back, you may have noticed the correct way to breathe. For instance, when breathing in, the baby’s stomach rises (expands). When breathing out (exhaling), its stomach goes in. Its shoulders and chest don’t move, or if they do move, it’s hardly at all.
This is exactly what your aim should be when practicing breathing and trying to correct your breathing overall. Here’s a short checklist for what you should notice in the mirror when you breathe in deeply.
Right vs Wrong
- Your shoulders stay level
- Your shoulders lift up
- Your chest rises only a little
- You use your chest to store all the air
- Your stomach expands
- Your stomach goes in
- Breathing relaxes you
- Breathing in tenses you
A Habit to Carry with You for Life
This may take a while at first, but I promise if you stick to it, it’s going to become a healthy and beneficial habit to practice. If you’ve already adopted this habit, then good! If not, for your own peace of mind, I strongly encourage you to adjust the way you’re breathing.
Remind yourself about the way you breathe, every time you…
- Walk through a doorway
- Lie down to go to sleep
- Wake up in the morning
- Get into a car, bus or train
- Get out of a car, bus, or train