Why Breathing Right is So Important
If you’ve ever felt short of breath or experienced tightness in your chest, you’ll know just how uncomfortable it can be when your breathing is impaired. Of course, most people take breathing for granted but few of us are doing it ‘right’. How you breathe has a major impact on your physical health and your emotional well-being, even if you don’t realize it.
How Does Breathing Affect the Body?
Your breathing has a direct impact on your blood pressure and your heart rate. If you’ve ever noticed how your heart races when you feel anxious, this reaction is often triggered because of a subconscious change in your breathing pattern. When you get nervous or anxious, you take more shallow breaths and, as a result, your heart rate and blood pressure increase.
In addition to this, your breathing impacts how well your muscles are able to function. If you take shallow breaths, rather than deep breaths, you use the muscles surrounding your collarbone and neck, instead of your diaphragm. However, tightness in the muscles or poor posture impairs their ability to function adequately, which can make you feel like you’re not taking in enough air.
Can Breathing Affect the Mind?
Yes. Your emotions can have an impact on your breathing, but the reverse is true too, which is why breathing right is great for mental health. If you’re not breathing properly, it can fuel anxiety, rather than diminish it. This can lead to a vicious cycle where your anxiety affects your breathing and, in turn, your breathing exacerbates your anxiety, often leading to a panic attack.
In addition to this, consistent, short, shallow breaths can make you feel more stressed and overwhelmed. When your blood isn’t filled with oxygen-rich air, it can also cause confusion, which can make you feel even more out of your depth. Furthermore, breathing too rapidly can cause your carbon dioxide levels to drop, which can lead to a feeling of panic, dizziness, faintness, and/or nausea.
How to Optimize Your Breathing
Now you know why it’s so important to breathe‘ right’, you’ll want to do everything you can to optimize your breathing patterns. Firstly, it’s important to ensure that the air you’re breathing in is as fresh and clean as possible. By having air ducts in your home professionally cleaned by DUCTZ, for example, you can ensure the air quality in your property isn’t having a negative impact on your well-being. Similarly, keeping your home well-ventilated will help to ensure you have constant access to fresh air.
Once you’ve taken steps to enhance the air quality, take a look at these top tips for improving your breathing patterns:
1. Keep Your Chest Still
If your chest rises and falls with each breath, it probably means you’re taking shallow breaths. Many people are surprised to learn that your chest doesn’t really need to move in order for you to breathe properly. When you’re learning how to take deep, diaphragmatic breaths, aim to keep your chest as still as you can.
2. Inhale Through Your Nose
Instead of gulping air in through your mouth, aim to inhale slowly through your nose. As you do so, place your hand on your belly and notice how it expands slightly as you draw breath into your body.
3. Exhale Through Your Mouth
When you’re ready to exhale, try to engage your stomach muscles. You can do this by attempting to pull your muscles towards your spine. As you exhale, purse your lips and allow the air to be expelled via your mouth.
Use Your Posture to Enhance Your Breathing
If you have poor posture, you may experience back or neck discomfort, but you may not realize that the way you stand, sit, and move could be affecting your breathing too. If you’re sitting in a hunched-over position, for example, your stomach muscles won’t be able to fully engage as you exhale.
By practicing good posture, you can breathe far more effectively, particularly when you’re learning how to take deep breaths from the diaphragm. When you first start experimenting with new breathing techniques, try to practice will you’re standing up or lying down, rather than sitting. This will help you to activate the appropriate muscles and allow you to feel the difference between taking shallow and deep breaths.
When you’re used to taking short or shallow breaths, it’s easy to overlook the impact it has on your well-being. However, once you begin to feel the difference that deep breathing makes, you’ll be acutely aware of how good it feels. By taking the time to practice deep breathing techniques every day and by being mindful about your breathing, you can enjoy the physical, mental and emotional benefits it brings.
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