Remember to Breathe!
Breathing is one of the few things you are born knowing how to do. So, what do I mean when I say remember to breathe? I mean remember to breathe mindfully. Breathing is innate. It’s not something you have to think about. That means you often don’t think about it. This can lead to a build up of tension in your muscles, and it can leave you feeling tired, sore, and even anxious. Don’t just take it from me:
“One of my favorite things to address is BREATHING. When you're stressed, you go into "fight, flight, or freeze" mode. This tends to lead to a lot of breath holding, shallow breathing, and/or jaw clenching. Your diaphragm is attached from your ribcage to your lumbar spine, and in addition to allowing the space to expand and contract your lungs, it's also an important core stabilizer. If you're not breathing fully and freely --ESPECIALLY EXHALING -- some core muscles won't activate properly (usually hips and glutes), and others won't relax completely (shoulders and jaw). The end result is you end up feeling tight and tired all the time, in addition to having lower back, neck and jaw pain.” - Dr. Deborah Morrone of Frederick Chiropractic Wellness Center
Now that you see the impact of breathing, try to be more mindful of the breaths you take. You might be thinking, Who has time for mindfulness? But I assure you, mindful breathing does not take long, and it is worth the benefits. I’m not suggesting you wake up every morning and do an hour of yoga or meditation – although those can be useful techniques to cope with anxiety as well. Instead, I am suggesting that you bring breathing to the forefront of your mind a few times a day, particularly when you are feeling upset, stressed, or anxious.
You’re trying to get caught up on some work, and you look over your To-Do List and start counting the items on it. You’re worried you won’t finish everything on time and —
Remember to breathe. Try this: 4-7-8 breathing. Close your eyes, sit up straight, and take a deep breath in. Breathe in for four. whole. seconds. When your lungs are full of air, keep your diaphragm expanded. Hold your breath for seven. whole. seconds. Finally, let it all go. Breathe out for eight. whole. seconds. Breath out like a child blowing bubbles - slowly and gently and let ALL of the air out!
You can do this just once, or you can do it several times. I recommend cycling through at least three times to get the full effect. But find what works best for you. When you finish, ask yourself, How am I feeling? You might notice that your shoulders are no longer scrunched up and you have a softer expression on your face. Not only that, but you have a clear mind, which will make it easier to tackle those items on your To-Do List!
4-7-8 breathing has been shown to reduce anxiety and to help people fall asleep: Try it a few times throughout the day, or even in bed at night! If you are finding the timing difficult to get used to, you can try other variations like 5-3-5 breathing.
The important thing is that you are aware of your breath. You are focusing on breathing instead of what is making you anxious. Taking a deep breath, making sure you exhale completely, and spending a moment on yourself can really help reduce your daily stress levels.
For more breathing tips and techniques, check out the articles below:
And now that the weather is getting warmer - maybe buy some bubbles... just for fun!!!