Have you ever urged a distressed friend to take a deep breath? That oft-delivered advice trips off the tongue without thought because we all instinctively understand that breath plays a vital role in a person’s health and welfare. Breath is life, and connecting with your breathing offers a powerful way to harness emotion; it allows you to push aside negativity and embrace the positive.
How do you breathe your way to a better day? Breathing is simple and reflexive; just taking a deep breath can be soothing. But deliberately breathing in a certain fashion offers specific benefits. To get the most out of your breathing, select the quality you’re in need of and experiment with the appropriate breathing technique.
Does morning tend to come too early for you? Do long afternoons leave you dreaming of a quick nap? Shake off sleepiness and brain fog using this easy breathing exercise. With your mouth closed, use a long, slow inhale to pull air down into your belly. Then, force the air out through your nose with a quick punch of an exhale. Repeat this cycle at least 10 times, resting for a few seconds after each exhale. So simple that you can do it virtually anywhere, this breathing routine offers a great way to increase alertness.
Chase away anxiety by counting your breaths. Breathe deeply through your nose for a count of five. Then, exhale through your nose while you count to seven. Visualize the air seeping steadily out of your lungs, emptying them from top to bottom as it takes your tension with it. Also known as diaphragmatic breathing, this technique calms you down in minutes.
Too often, hot tempers lead to poor choices. If you feel ready to fly off the handle, rein your anger in by controlling your breathing. Fury or fear cause shallow breathing and tightness in the chest, so counteract these strong emotions by making it a point to breathe from your belly. Inhale deeply, pulling the air down into your belly. Exhale slowly through the mouth, letting the irritation flow out with the escaping air. After a few minutes of this, cooler heads will prevail.
When life has you feeling intimidated, bump up your confidence level by consciously taking deep, slow breaths for at least two minutes. For a bigger boost, combine this focused breathing with a powerful posture by standing with your hands on your hips and your head held high. Studies have shown that assuming a strong pose that takes up space increases testosterone levels, which makes a person feel more confident and self-assured.
If your thoughts are running amok or your brain seems stuck on autopilot, clear your head with present-moment breathing. Find a comfortable position and breathe deeply. Close your eyes and mentally trace the path of the air as it travels into your nasal passages, down your throat, through your lungs and then back out again. Dwell on the sensations of breathing, concentrating on the way your body feels as your ribcage expands and contracts. After two minutes or so, your mind will be refreshed, allowing you to focus on the tasks in front of you more effectively.
Whether personal issues are making your day rough or troubles at work have your stress level skyrocketing, remember to take time to breathe. Just a few minutes of focused breathing can provide welcome relief from life’s pressures and revitalize you so that you are better equipped to deal with whatever comes your way.