We all breathe all day, every day, automatically and often without being conscious of it. But how often do you actively think about your breath and deliberately use it to help your fitness performance or to reduce stress?
Many of us only use a mere third of our lung capacity and, more often than not, our breathing pattern tend to be shallow and located to the upper chest. This leads to a lack of oxygenation for the body and promotes muscle tension. Stressful times – whether caused by emotional stress or physical stress from exercise – promote this short, shallow, upper chest breathing, whereas relaxed situations promote deep belly breathing. Upper chest breathing can result in anxiety and an increase in the flight or fight response, whereas deep, belly breathing encourages full oxygenation, a grounded sense of wellbeing, and a sense of being in the moment. Other benefits of deep breathing include:
- Increased energy
- Improved respiratory and cardiovascular systems
- Decreased blood pressure
- Calmed nervous system
- Strengthened lymphatic and immune systems
- Released muscle tension
- Elevated digestive system
- Calmed mental state.
Since many of us are simply too busy to focus on our breath throughout each day, setting aside some time to do this mindfully is a good idea. Meditation, yoga, guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation, a relaxing bath, etc. can all help and it takes just a few minutes a day to see positive results pretty quickly.
So the next time you’re feeling stressed or anxious, take a few moments to close your eyes, breath as deeply and as slowly as you can, and feel the tension melt away. Breathe in, breathe out, repeat for as long as it takes. As we enter the holidays, stress often runs high. Use the simple, yet effective technique of deep breathing to help restore harmony so you can enjoy the joys of the season.
From all of us at Glide, we sincerely wish you happy and stress-free holidays!