Before you read this post, I’m going to ask you to do me a favor: take one long, slow, relaxed inhale through your nose. Breathe into your ribcage and upper back, feel your belly expand. Then take one long, slow, relaxed exhale through your nose, getting all the air out.
As I was taking a gentle yoga class earlier this week and being instructed to take several deep inhales and exhales, I realized (for like the millionth time) how good it feels to really breathe. It never fails to amaze me what a difference just a few simple breaths can make when it comes to how calm, focused, and relaxed I feel.
So today I’m talking about breathing! Which on the one hand seems ridiculous, because we all are obviously breathing automatically all day, every day...but taking even just a moment each day to check-in with your breath can have major benefits for your mental, emotional, and physical health.
And you don’t have to do anything fancy or take an hour-long yoga class to get the benefit.
Here are a few breathing exercises you can implement into your day:
Try taking 3 deep breaths in and out before eating your next meal.
Not only does this put your body into the parasympathetic state (the ‘rest and
digest’ state, aka: the opposite of the sympathetic or ‘fight/flight’ state) to help you
prepare to digest your food, but it also gives you a moment to pause and notice
what you are about to eat, how you are feeling, or what else is going on around you.
Maybe even take a deep breath between each bite of food.
If you have trouble falling asleep at night or wake up and can’t get back to sleep, try this breathing exercise:
breath in for a count of 4-6 seconds, hold for a count of 4-6, exhale for a count of 4-
6, hold for a count of 4-6. Repeat. (A slightly different version of this: inhale for a
count of 4-6, hold for 4-6, exhale for 6-8. Repeat. Both good options!)
Increase the length of your exhale.
Longer exhales are the fastest (and probably easiest) way to reduce your body’s
physiological stress response. So if you are feeling anxious or are in a stressful
situation, see if you can slowly and fully exhale for a few breaths. Even if your mind
is still feeling the stress, your body will be slowing down its alarm signals (I like to do
this when I’m driving and/or doing anything else that is making me feel impatient).
For a few more variations on breathing techniques, take a look at this article from Experience Life Magazine: https://experiencelife.com/article/trying-to-unwind-try-these-two-breathing-exercises/
And check out my YouTube video explaining how to use the "physiological sigh" to reduce stress:
Do you find yourself forgetting to breathe or holding your breath when your stressed? How do you remind yourself to breathe, or what's your favorite breath exercise?
...for your free 30-minute consultation call, or visit https://calendly.com/meganfschall/consultation-call to get started!