Breathing with Intention
Breathing sounds pretty common sense, right? It happens regardless of whether we choose to or not and often times it is forgotten that our body has this inborn ability that starts from the day we are born. Breathing is something we naturally know how to do the second we arrive in this world and it’s the very thing that keeps us alive everyday.
It is quite easy to forget the important role that breathing has as it relates to our well being...that is until you become short of it or no longer have it. Sometimes when you are in a stressful situation you will notice shortness of breath. This is when you feel your chest is tight and you are taking rapid short and shallow breaths. These symptoms are part of our sympathetic nervous system response which is the body’s natural attempt at adapting to anxiety or stressful situations. This is also known as our flight or flight reaction. In response to this, the adrenal glands release the stress hormone, Cortisol, which is associated with blood pressure, aging, lower immune function and many other health issues.
By consciously slowing and deepening your breath, you are controlling your parasympathetic nervous system by changing your stressed state to a relaxed response. While this is shown to improve stress and help you feel more calm, it shouldn’t take only stressful situations for us to remember to breathe deeply. It should be something we make an effort to do everyday.
This is where the power of deep breathing is important. The key is breathing with intention.
It’s taking the time to think about the air that you inhale and exhale and the way in which you do it. Consciously controlling the way you breath can not only help alleviate stress, anger and anxiety, but it can also provide you with mental clarity, focus and an overall better mental state.
Before starting your day – When you wake up, take slow deep breaths before doing anything. This will improve the oxygen flow in your blood which will give you more energy and make you alert. When starting with breathing exercises first, you are preparing for any stressors that may be coming your way by getting into a good state before you begin the day.
When you find yourself in a stressful or angry situation – Self soothe by taking 10 slow and deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth to relieve the stress and anxiety. This will help calm you down and clear your mind so you have more focus to make more grounded decisions.
Before you go to bed – At this point in your day, you have had a variety of things come your way. Taking the time to wind down with deep breathing will shift your focus off of the events of your day and what's to come for tomorrow, to the present. This can relax you and put you in a peaceful mindset to help you fall asleep more easily.
Deep breathing is a practice that is recommended by many health experts and practioners. It is simple, requires very little time and you can do this anywhere and at anytime. So try it! Breathe deeply with intention, you will definitely feel the difference.