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Have you ever thought to yourself, “Things are getting too chaotic, I just want to cut out all the craziness and overload and get back to the basics”? I think we all have at one time or another.
Life can get pretty overwhelming with everything that we have on our plates nowadays. “Back to the basics” can mean very different things for different people. But we all have some sense of “back to the basics” meaning getting back to the things that really matter. Back to the important stuff.
BONUS! If you need some help dealing with the overwhelm and hectic nature of your life right now, at the bottom of this post I have a link to a super practical action plan that can help you create some space in your life so that you can focus in on the things you REALLY care about. AND – It’s free!
So let’s really get down to the basics. What’s more important and basic than breathing?
We can live without food for about 3 weeks they say, without water for about 3 days, but without breathing for only about 3 minutes. It’s something we do all our lives, most of the time without thinking about it (if all is going well).
But, if you do take time to think about it and do it consciously it can be a great tool for dealing with life’s challenges, relieving stress and finding balance. There are many different breathing techniques out there and many are really useful.
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The particular breathing technique I have found most helpful is called conscious connected breathing. It’s very simple and you can even teach it to children to help them deal with stress, anxiety and the challenges that they have to deal with in their lives.
Conscious connected breathing has only 2 simple rules:
1) No pauses between the exhale and the inhale
2) Relax the exhale
So basically, you breathe in as fully as you like and then just let your breath flow out. As soon as the last bit of breath is out of your lungs begin your inhale. Don’t pause between the exhale and the inhale. I don’t know about you but if I pay attention to my usual way of breathing I find I often have quite a pause between the inhale and exhale. So this may feel a little strange at first. It’s important not to force your breath out or push it out, or you might start to hyperventilate or feel a little dizzy. Just let the exhale go out on its own.
Here’s a simple diagram to remind you how this breathing works:
Think of it like a Swiss army knife. If you want to make an adjustment to your state of mind (or the state of your mind) you can take out this handy tool and use it to do what you need to do.
Feeling anxious or overwhelmed? Take in long, slow, deep inhales.
Falling asleep in a meeting or at a dull social gathering, take fast full deep inhales (try to do it quietly so you don’t scare the person sitting next to you at the conference table or on the sofa.)
Need to fall asleep, try slow and shallow inhales.
Smacked your thumb with the hammer, fast and shallow (like panting) will keep you alert to deal with deciding whether or not you broke it, but help you feel the pain a little less. Then you’ll probably want to switch over to slow deep breaths to relax and release endorphins which will help ease the pain further.
Play around with the rate and depth of your inhale during different breathing sessions and see how it makes you feel. Remember, whatever the speed or depth of your inhale, don’t force the exhale.
Most of the time you’ll probably be doing the slow deep breathing when you decide to focus on your breath. Slow deep breaths help relax us and relieve stress and tension. As mentioned above, deep breathing actually releases endorphins, those feel-good hormones that many believe cause a “runner’s high.” Endorphins are actually peptides that activate the body’s opiate receptors, causing an analgesic or pain relieving effect. (So the reduced pain from breathing deeply isn’t just an illusion or nice idea…you’re actually causing your body to release natural pain relievers. How cool is that?!)
But wait, there’s more! lol Bonus benefits of breathing that you may not have considered:
Every time you exhale your body gets rid of waste products. 70% of our bodies’ waste products are released through our lungs. Taking deeper and fuller breaths and allowing the full exhale can help us detox.
Deep breathing can improve your mood. This is based on scientific evidence, too. After completing a deep breathing technique, participants in the study were tested for heart rate and salivary cortisol levels (cortisol being that stress hormone that helps us gain that nice spare tire around our middles as we age). Both went down. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27995346
Deep breathing may help with symptoms of depression
Deep breathing increases energy. Not because we’re getting more oxygen, but because deep breathing produces Growth Hormone (GH) and Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) two key hormones that are important for the body and associated with aging. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4034508/
It can help control the glycemic response and help deal with blood sugar issues. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23360657
Deep breathing can improve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
It can improve heart function.
Deep breathing can curb hunger pangs.
Deep breathing exercises can help improve memory.
It improves focus and attention.
Deep breathing can reduce inflammation in the body.
Convinced yet that our most basic function, breathing, can have a huge positive impact on our health?
Getting back to basics is easy with this handy “tool” that is always with us and that we can use anytime and anywhere. If you equate a simpler life with better health and greater happiness then deep breathing is really a no brainer!
Want more ideas about how to create a more peaceful and happier you? Check out 3 Simple Habits for A Calmer & Happier Life.
Here’s to your health!
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