Sitting down all day long and hunched over a table, laptop, steering wheel and being exposed to pollution, heightened distraction and environmental changes have made many people develop a different type of breathing to ‘the norm’ which is known as shallow breathing or chest breathing. The problem with this is that it is linked to many unwanted health issues including anxiety and recurring chest infections, something we all need to avoid in the current climate!
Most of us take our body for granted, after all, a lot of the things your amazing body does is controlled by the autonomic nervous system which gets on with its daily jobs of keeping you alive without you having to think about breathing, making your heartbeat or digesting your food.
To fight the demands and potentially detrimental effects of modern life, it is essential for your wellness to reconnect with these elements your body does automatically and ensure they are working well for you, now, and as you age. Shallow breathing has the worst impact on older people and those less able to fight off illness and infection!
If your breathing is shallow and you experience anxiety this can lead to hypoventilation which is rapid breathing. This causes carbon dioxide to decrease and can lead to symptoms which feel similar to a heart attack such as lightheadedness, tingling, chest pain and dry mouth, which is why panic attack symptoms are often mistaken for or feel like that of a heart attack!
Shallow breathing also has a negative impact on your enteric (gut/digestive) nervous system too, causing it to tense and cramp. If you have poor posture, shallow breathing, lack daily movement, lack regular exercise, sufficient nutrients and/or live in a highly stressed state, it is likely you will be experiencing gut health issues which over time would be improved by changing those negative influences into positive ones.
Becoming more aware of your breathing and training your body to breathe as it is meant to once again will help reduce anxiety, decrease cortisol, increase oxygen and help prevent infection.
Belly breathing also known as diaphragmatic breathing stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system which helps reduce your heart rate, lower your blood pressure, helps your muscles to relax, decreases cortisol and adrenaline, increases mental clarity and helps calm your body and mind. It really is the best and most natural form of self-care you can utilise at any time and anywhere.
Simply by changing your breathing, you can put yourself in a calmer and more grounded state, which over time will become a habit and have incredible long term positive effects on your entire body creating balanced wellness.
Set a timer for 1 to 2 minutes.
Either lay down or sit up straight but comfortably with your shoulders down and back.
Place your right hand on your stomach and your left on your chest by your heart 💓
Breathe in through your nose (which warms, moistens, cleans the air and kills bacteria) so the hand on your stomach expands naturally (don’t force it) and the hand on your chest stays still.
If you can breathe in through your nose and out through your nose all the better, if not then breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth to begin with.
Breathe in for 4, hold for 4 and out for 4 (if you can, or build-up to this) and do this at least once a day for the next 30 days at least and then it should start to become a natural habit for you once more.
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