Relax. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath in, hold it, now release. Do you feel better?
That’s what people like to say in order to offer you support when you’re feeling stressed or angry. But the expression “take a deep breath” has become so engrained in our conversational vocabulary that it almost runs the risk of not meaning anything at all. The truth, however, is that proper breathing really can help you beat back anxiety, rage, stress, being overwhelmed and more. In some cases, you might even be able to look to proper breathing for weight loss.
Most people leave breathing to their body and don’t give the activity much thought at all. But poor posture and awkward sitting positions can lead to excessive chest breathing, which limits the amount of oxygen you’re actually taking in with each breathe to a mere 5%. That means you’re effectively making your body perform more work than it needs to. In order to help improve the amount of oxygen you’re receiving with each breath, we’ve put together a list of proper breathing exercises you can try right at home (or at the office, or at the gym).
How to improve your breathing begins with first recognizing exactly which entryways you’re using to let oxygen in. The key is to focus on your nose, as the mouth isn’t meant to be used primarily for breathing. Try to take a deep breath in through your nose, hold it for a count of four, then release. This will help in certain fight-or-flight situations where stress relief breathing is paramount to calming yourself down.
Like we mentioned above, it’s easy to fall back on lazy chest breathing while you’re lying on the couch watching your favorite shows. However, stomach (or diaphragm) breathing opens up your lungs as wide as they’ll go, ensuring your body receives as much oxygen as it needs. Time magazine recommends six to 10 deep, slow breaths every minute, so remember that the next time someone tells you to “take a deep breath.” Instead, take 10.
Breathing for Weight Loss
Is breathing for weight loss really a thing? The studies haven’t decided definitively yet, but the stress reduction benefits continue to pile up. Even basic breathing therapy techniques like stomach breathing can help lower the blood pressure and heart rate, decreasing your adrenaline levels and helping you achieve a calmer, more peaceful state of mind (and body). When you’re watching your weight, deep breathing exercises can help you maximize your breathing efficiency as you exercise.
The American Medical Student Association recommends placing your left hand on your chest and your right hand on your belly, then breathing normally. If your left hand rises more than your right, you might want to look into some breathing exercises to help you relax. If your right hand rises more, tell the world your secret to deep breathing success.