Did you know that bad breathing habits can negatively affect your health? Wouldn’t you like to have more energy, less anxiety, better relationships and improved health? If it were simple and didn’t cost you any money would you do it?
Most of us breathe in a way that is not physiologically optimal for our bodies. Do you notice when you hold your breath, breathe very shallow or hyperventilate? These breathing patterns can be stressful for the bodying can lead to a shortage of oxygen and energy.
Without knowing it you might be messing up your sleep, mood (grumpy?), digestion, heart, nervous system, muscles, and brain. (Think snoring, grinding your teeth, sleep apnea, brain fog, feeling sluggish.) I have a friend that was put on a CPAP machine for sleep apnea, and within a few days her mood was lighter, she was happy and laughed more. All because she would stop breathing in her sleep she wasn’t getting enough oxygen. Now she feels like a new person.
Your body uses oxygen in many different ways. The brain uses 20% of the oxygen we consume. When there is a shortage of oxygen, the brain works slower. Since the brain regulates a lot of processes in the body we want it to be the most efficient it can be.
The heart, beating constantly, is a huge consumer of oxygen in the muscle that keeps you going. if you heart is not efficient, you may experience bad circulation to the extremities causing cold hands and feet. This also impacts your stamina and you get tired faster and may not be able to do the things you wish. (contemplating climbing a mountain?)
Ok so how do you fix your breathing? You could take a tai chi, yoga or meditative breathing workshop or you can try this simple 4 step pattern:
- Breathe in through the nose. Close your mouth and place your tongue up on the top palate.
- Extend your exhale. Inhale for 2-3 seconds, exhale for 3-4 seconds, pause for 2-3 seconds and then repeat. Be gentle with yourself don’t force.
- Be ”proud”. Make sure your body posture is upright. Lift from the crown of you head, expand you chest comfortably, sit up straight.
- Relax. Become aware of any tensions going on in this moment. Use your exhale to let the tension go.
Prompt & Celebrate!
Now set yourself some prompts to do it and then celebrate each time you make a concerted effort to change your breathing. Challenge a friend to join you.
when I put my feet on the floor first thing in the morning,
when I finish brushing my teeth,
when I let the dog out,
on my first break at the office, etc.,
at that time I will take 4 breaths, exhale longer than inhale, notice my upright posture and release tension in my body. Repeat!
Celebrate with a smile, dance, fist pump (please don’t hit anyone) or what ever works for you.
Nose —> Exhale —> Posture —> Relax. SMILE.
Celebrate Breathing and Feeling Better!!