Monday, 16 January 2012
Most people never pay any attention to their breathing. It just happens.
"I’m still alive so there I go..."
But breathing is so much more important that many people realize, and breathing properly is something that has to be re-learned as adults a lot of times because we pick up bad breathing habits like shallow, chest-breathing instead of deep, belly-breathing.
I know this sounds bizarre, but trust me. Breathing is very important in order to attain and maintain a relaxed state.
It is especially effective when combined with progressive muscle relaxation.
In order to breathe “properly”, choose a quiet spot – preferably one where you can lie down. If you cannot lie down, sit comfortably in a chair of your choice.
Place one hand on your belly near your navel, and one on your chest near your sternum.
Close your eyes and inhale through your nose by expanding your belly, ensuring your chest doesn’t also rise – you can tell by whether your chest-hand moves up at all.
Exhale slowly out of your mouth, letting the air find its way out – do not force it out, just let your belly fall.
Concentrate on keeping your breaths even and slow – focus on the air moving through your nose and into your lungs, feel it energizing and calming your body, and feel the stress or anger flowing out with it as you exhale.
Practicing deep-breathing is important for calming yourselves during anxiety and panic, as well as re-energizing and relaxing after a long day. It is also helpful for centering oneself when spiraling into depression. It may not lift your mood but you will at least feel more centered after a breathing exercise.
I have underscored the importance of proper breathing a few times already without ever really explaining the mechanism behind why this is such a powerful tool to be using to reset ourselves during anxious periods. Please read the information in this article for more details about the systems behind why breathing helps calm us down during times of stress and anxiety.
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