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Don’t Panic! Breathe…

How are you doing? How are you breathing with the constant bad news? Are you having panic attacks? Holding your breath? Hyperventilating and having a hard time getting in control of your breathing? Keep it simple. Breathe.We are in an unprecedented time in our world filled with tons of uncertainty. One of the best things we […]

How are you doing? How are you breathing with the constant bad news? Are you having panic attacks? Holding your breath? Hyperventilating and having a hard time getting in control of your breathing?

Keep it simple. Breathe.
We are in an unprecedented time in our world filled with tons of uncertainty. One of the best things we can do for self-care is to breathe. It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? However, during our busy day, we may not notice that our breathing is off. After all, we breathe normally whether we focus on it or not, right? Wrong. In our current anxiety-ridden lives, our breathing contributes to more stress.

What are some abnormal ways we breathe?
1) Shallow breathing through our chests
2) Breath-holding (especially in stressful situations)
3) Over breathing (i.e. hyperventilating) and not getting in enough air
4) Being too aware of your breathing which makes you more anxious

Breathing in the ways I’ve mentioned above means we’re not getting enough oxygen to feed our cells, organs, muscles and more. Not breathing correctly can really mess with your central nervous system. Less oxygen means less energy is produced to keep your body functioning at its highest level. I have found that breathwork is number one in my self-care toolbox. 

During yoga teacher training and yoga retreats I’ve attended; I have learned some of the keys to breathing correctly through practice.
1) Breathe through your nose, it filters the air
2) Breathe with your diaphragm vs. through your chest, belly breathing
3) Breathe relaxed, soften your belly  

Deep breathing is especially important. Why? Inhaling deep breaths fill your body with the oxygen needed to fuel your body. The majority of us take shallow breaths (breathing through our chests) all day. By being in the present moment and hopefully clearing your mind, it is easier to focus on your breath.

How can deep breathing affect your body?
1) Decreases your heart rate
2) Lowers your blood pressure
3) Slows your breathing down

Here are two examples of breathing exercises to calm and center your mind.

Six-Count Belly Breaths
This practice slows down your heart rate and calms your nervous system. Put one hand on your stomach and the other on your diaphragm. Picture your torso as a glass. When you breathe in, you are going to fill that glass from the bottom to the top, from your stomach up to your shoulders. As you breathe out, you are going to empty the glass slowly from your shoulders down. I do this to a six-count, but you can do what works for you as long as it is a deep breath for you. Do this for five minutes.

Alternate Nostril Breathing

This practice balances the left and right sides of the brain. Use a four to six-count on each inhale and exhale. Use the thumb of the right hand to close the right nostril and inhale through the left side. Then, use the index finger of the right hand to close the left nostril, exhale through the right. Next, inhale right and exhale left. Continue for 10 rounds. You are exhaling and inhaling on one side and then moving to the other side to exhale and inhale.  

It’s easy to panic in these uncertain times. Use your breath to calm down. Make sure you’re getting enough oxygen to fill your body by breathing correctly.  

Don’t Panic. Breathe.  

Click here for more of her stories on Everyday Self-Care.

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