Breathing is something we take for granted. It’s not an activity that we think much about. But not all breathing is created equal. If you’ve never been trained on how to optimize your breathing for better health, now’s the time to learn.
The Correlation Between Breathing and Emotional Well-Being
We all know that proper breathing is extremely important to physical health. It yields an array of benefits like:
- Better heart rate control
- Enhanced athletic performance
- Strengthened diaphragm muscle
- Reduced physical pain
- Stronger lungs
But the connection between proper breathing and emotional well-being is just as powerful. Benefits include:
- Relieving stress and anxiety
- Regulating emotions (stopping panic attacks in their tracks)
- Greater inner peace
- Controlling anger and frustration
All of these benefits ultimately result in a more balanced emotional state. This includes increased happiness and contentment with life.
In a recent study, Yale University discovered that college students who learn specific breathing techniques are much happier than those who are never taught how to “properly” inhale and exhale.
Students in the study were trained on proper breathing techniques and participated in regular “sessions.” After each session, these students reported improvements in a few key areas of well-being: depression, mental health, stress, mindfulness, social connectedness, and positive affect. They were compared against a control group and found to have more positive outcomes in each of these areas.
3 Tips to Improve Your Breathing
You can learn how to improve your breathing with practice and attention to detail. Here are three helpful tips you can integrate into your life:
1. Try Breathing Techniques
You breathe in and you breathe out. It sounds simple enough, right? Well, there’s more to it than that. These techniques may help you improve your quality of breathing and, as a result, amplify the benefits you receive.
- Improve your posture. By sitting up straight, you give your lungs the room they need to expand more quickly and efficiently with each breath. It also enhances the transfer of air into the lungs and allows carbon dioxide to exit the lungs with minimal friction.
- Focus on exhaling. Did you know that you’re probably only exhaling roughly 70 percent of the carbon dioxide in your lungs? Focus on exhaling and try to push all of the air out of your lungs with each breath (as if blowing bubbles). You’ll feel a surge of energy.
- Tactical breathing. This technique works while you’re exercising. Try breathing in through your nostrils for four counts, then out through the mouth for six counts. (Eight counts is even better.) Keeping this rhythm for two minutes or longer will improve how you feel and perform.
- Box breathing. Breathe in through your nose for a count of five, hold for five more, then breathe out through the mouth for five again, before finally holding for a final count of five. Doing this steady practice for at least three minutes each day will give you greater breathing “rhythm.”
These are just a few examples of different tips and techniques you can use. See which ones work best and make them a standard part of your daily routine.
2. Do Things That Require Precision
The problem most of us have is that we move through life with such a rapid pace that we never slow down long enough to be intentional about anything – let alone breathing. You can change this by integrating hobbies into your life that require precision.
Here’s one idea: Buy a firearm and regularly visit the shooting range. Find an instructor and have him teach you precision. In doing so, you’ll be forced to slow down and focus on breathing. (If you want to be accurate, that is.)
3. Get More Exercise
Breathing and circulation are closely correlated. By integrating more exercise into your daily routine, you can enhance your heart rate and promote healthier lung functioning. Good exercises include swimming, jogging, cycling, and yoga.
Set Yourself Up for Success
Breathing seems like such a small aspect of our daily lives, but as you can see, it plays a much bigger role than we realize. By focusing more energy and effort on proper and disciplined breathing, you can improve your emotional health and spend more time enjoying life as it’s meant to be lived.
Try out these techniques and let us know how they work for you!