Have you ever slowed down to pay attention to your breathing? Don’t be surprised if the answer is no. Most people do not pay any particular attention to their breath or their bodies and the physical sensations. Breathing is something that we take for granted – we know we are breathing because, well, we are alive – but are we really breathing in the most effective way possible? Learning how to breathe properly is helpful for many reasons. But, first and foremost, breathing well can help reduce feelings of anxiety, intense emotions, irritability, and frustration.
If you close your eyes and pay attention to your breath, you will probably notice that you are breathing from your chest – in other words, taking shallow breaths. You’re probably wondering why this is problematic. Taking shallow and quick breaths results in physical symptoms associated with anxiety and irritability, for example, an increased heart rate. When our body becomes anxious, our mind can easily become focused on worrisome and overwhelming thoughts, or we might seek out information that is consistent with how we feel physically, thereby increasing negative feelings.
When we engage in deep breathing, we are actually telling our body that it is ok to relax!
Deep breathing is a useful technique to help you become more aware of your body and reduce physical sensations of anxiety. When we breathe deeply, we are able to bring in more oxygen, which relaxes the body and consequently helps clear the mind. When we engage in deep breathing, we are actually telling our body that it is ok to relax! We cannot be anxious and relaxed at the same time and this is a good way to remind yourself to take a few minutes to slow down and refocus.
Here are some tips for practicing deep breathing:
1) Find a comfortable spot. You can close your eyes, put on some soothing music, or dim the lights.
2) Sit back.
3) Take a slow deep breath, through your nose, from your belly (if you place your hand on your belly, you should feel it expanding with each breath). Try to picture your belly as if it is a balloon that is inflating.
4) Hold your breath for 2-3 seconds
5) Exhale through your mouth, very slowly and deliberately (about 5-6 seconds). Try to picture your belly as if it is a balloon that is deflating.
6) Wait until you have fully exhaled prior to taking in your next breath.
7) You might notice that you have distracting thoughts. If this happens, just notice and acknowledge them, and tell yourself to come back to your breath.
Deep breathing is a great tool to use when you start to notice that you are getting overwhelmed. The more you practice the easier it becomes. It is also very helpful because you can breathe anywhere, anytime! For example, you might start to notice that you are getting frustrated in a work meeting. Taking a few moments to breathe can help refocus your attention.
Deep breathing is one strategy for managing daily stress. If you notice that you need assistance with managing and coping with stress, please do not hesitate to contact us. The associates at Saterra are happy to help. Please contact us at (613) 831-8181 or send us an e-mail through our contact page.