How You Breathe Matters

Here's how your breathing could be impacting your physical and mental well-being.

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Every breath we take, some 25,000 each day, affects how well we function on all levels of mind and body. Yet most of us are breathing sub-optimally, and we do not even know it. The most common dysfunctional habits are breathing too fast (over 10 breaths per minute), too heavily (pulling in and pushing out too much air volume), predominant chest breathing (upper chest and shoulders visibly moving as you breathe), regular mouth breathing (during the day or at night), unconscious breath holding, breathing with a tight belly.

Just one of these habits will disturb your wellbeing. When they become part of your regular breathing pattern, every aspect of your health will be adversely impacted:

STRESS: just one suboptimal breath can activate our stress response. A lifetime of suboptimal breathing can keep us in a state of chronic stress and tension.

INFLAMMATION: poor breathing tightens blood vessels and decreases oxygen in our cells, which increases inflammation causing pain, injury, degeneration, and disease. 

PHYSICAL PAIN: poor breathing creates muscle tension and postural imbalance, which together compound the tightness and bring aches, pain and discomfort into our bodies. 

EMOTIONAL IMBALANCE: the physical tension from breathing dysfunction creates a feedback loop to the brain that we are under stress. We feel imbalanced, fraught and tense. 

MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES: the brain is starved of oxygen when we breathe poorly. We lose concentration, get brain fog, negative thinking, and feel low, despondent, and helpless. 

LOW ENERGY:  breathing poorly uses more energy and decreases the amount of oxygen that arrives into our cells for a double hit to our energy levels. 

HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE: as blood vessels tighten and heart rates rise as we breathe dysfunctionally creating cardiovascular ill health.

We can change all of this by learning to correct our default breathing to be more optimal and functional. The steps are straight-forward: breathe through your nose at all times, diaphragmatically (which means your breathing feels low in your body, with your belly gently expanding as you breathe in and returning as you breathe out), with a slow, smooth, light breathing rhthym (that feels subtle and soft, rather than big and bold).

Start with a micro-step of just a few minutes consciously breathing like this each day. For detailed direction and guidance, download The Breath Method app, which teaches you to find your optimal breathing pattern. And watch out for specialist reset breathing practices coming to Thrive soon.

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