The Simple Act of Proper Breathing

Breathing through Your Nose for Health

Thrive invites voices from many spheres to share their perspectives on our Community platform. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and opinions expressed by Community contributors do not reflect the opinions of Thrive or its employees. More information on our Community guidelines is available here.

You would think that breathing is only a reflex our body does to keep us alive. We don’t think about breathing every minute of the day any more than we think about the many other functions our bodies automatically do without any required action on our part. Even during physical exercise, which is good for us, we tend to take breathing for granted.

Oh sure, we may actually think about breathing when we’re tense or we’re in a hurry. We say things like, “I feel breathless” or “This stress is making it difficult for me to get a good deep breath.” But, most of the time we just take it for granted that we are breathing. Since breathing is a natural process, we’re surprised to learn that there is a right way, and a wrong way, to breathe. The question is—are you breathing properly? The answer is—probably not.

Breathing properly means that your breath is steady, and controlled. That’s how it should be most of the time. Unfortunately, we are not always in control of a situation so we resort to stress-breathing and we take it for granted that that’s the way to breathe. Stress breathing is different in that it comes from the primordial fight or flight response of our ancestors to a situation that they sensed as dangerous. Realistic situations, not really dangerous but beyond our control such as, “I have to get this on my boss’s desk by 4:00 PM! I could lose my job!” or “I am going to be late because of all this traffic! I am so stressed!” cause us to stress breathe today.

This type of breathing was a great help when our ancestors were threatened by fierce animals or warring tribes, not so great for reaching a deadline at work or being stuck in traffic. We feel as if we’re gasping for the very air we breathe! Constant stress breathing makes us tired, lethargic, just plan exhausted at times. The truth is that all organs in your body depend on healthy breathing. That feeling of fatigue that we all seem to know so well? It comes from stress breathing. After a while, incorrect breathing can do actual damage to every part of your body.  

We’re living in a time of unbelievable stress and uncertainty. No wonder we aren’t breathing the way our lungs were programmed to do. Since we have no control over stressful things happening, are we destined to breathe stressfully day in and day out? Not at all. There is a way we can teach ourselves the simple act of breathing by trying this method—nose breathing. Surprised?

Breathing through the nose, slowly and steadily, is the absolute best way to get air into your body. It slows your breath, making your lungs slow down so they work more efficiently. That helps to transport oxygen throughout your entire body. There are other benefits as well when you breathe solely through your nose. Did you know that breathing through your nose has more advantages than stress breathing through your mouth? For one thing, nose breathing filters allergens and toxins from the air so they don’t enter your body. This method of proper breathing also humidifies dry air, and even warms cold air before it enters your body. Teaching yourself to breathe through your nose is the key to the simple act of proper breathing

It’s not hard to learn but it does take a bit of practice. Try sitting quietly with your eyes closed and concentrate on breathing through your nose. Let your mind focus only on your breaths and nothing else. Try doing this at least twice a day and more often if you are particularly stressed. It will take time, but practicing how to breathe, simply and without stress, will make you healthier mentally and physically.

Proper breathing ensures that your body is being supplied with the right amount of oxygen, It replenishes your brain and other vital organs with essential nutrients. Yes, nutrients from the air through your nose. It’s that important.

The simple act of proper breathing is one thing we all need right now. Make learning how to do this a priority. Your body and mind will thank you with increased energy and mental alertness.

© 2020 copyright Kristen Houghton all rights reserved

You might also like...


In Remembrance: My Interview With Beloved Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh

by Marianne Schnall
coka / Shutterstock

8 Breathing Exercises to Try When You Feel Anxious

by Timothy J. Legg
Sergiy Zavgorodny / Shutterstock

What Learning to Scuba Dive Taught Me About Finding Calm in a Moment of Panic

by Mallory Stratton
We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.