Do you know how to breathe?
Of course you do. But, do you know how to dissolve stress and create emotional and physical well being with your breath?
Proper breathing stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system. This system controls the rest and relaxation response in your body. When active, this system lowers your blood pressure, reduces your heart rate, calms your mind, and induces a healing response in your body.
By contrast, when your sympathetic nervous system is activated, by stress and or improper breathing, your flight or flight response is triggered. Your body releases cortisol and you experience agitated and uncomfortable inner states of being.
While it may feel that proper breathing is natural to us, for most of us it isn’t anymore.
Stress, anxiety, and poor habits train us away from tapping the restorative powers of proper breathing.
Further, most of us have been misguided about how to breathe properly. We’re told to take lots of big deep breaths.
According to recent research, big deep breaths actually deprive our brains of oxygen.
“The calmer and quieter you breathe, the larger your blood vessels open, enabling better circulation and distribution of oxygen throughout the body, including the brain. Oxygenate the brain—breathe less.”
–Patrick McKeown, Author of Stop Worrying and Quieten Your Mind and The Oxygen Advantage: Simple, Scientifically Proven Breathing Techniques to Help You Become Healthier, Slimmer, Faster, and Fitter
So how should you breathe if you want a healthier body and a happier emotional state?
Like a baby.
You were born knowing how to breathe.
Here are some tips to help you return to breathing like a baby:
- Nose breathing only, no mouth breathing. Mouth breathing results in over-breathing and activates the sympathetic nervous system.
- Slow, quiet, easy, fluid breaths that flow gently into your abdomen (diaphragm) and return the same way, no efforting.
- Become constantly conscious of your breath, especially when you feel stress. You will be better able to respond to the challenges you encounter, and it will leave you feeling emotionally stronger and more stable.
You now have a powerful tool to disarm the stress response and activate rest and renewal in your body and mind. Set yourself up for success by breathing like a baby whenever you get into a car, arrive at work, or sit down to eat.