Not many of us pay attention to howwe breathe, but it is one of the most important things for our health.
Before you read any further, take a deep breath in, hold your breath for a few seconds, and then exhale. Did you breathe into your upper chest, or down into your belly?
Many people today have a rapid and shallow breathing pattern, which activates our “fight or flight” nervous system, resulting in stress, anxiety, restlessness, poor digestion and acidity in the body.
When we take slow, deep breaths into our lower belly, we activate our “rest and digest” nervous system, which improves relaxation, calmness, spinal stability, heart health and focus.
As we approach holiday season, life can get a bit manic and crazy. Here are my top 5 mindful breathing tips to keep you calm and focused as the year comes to a close:
- Mindful morning: before you get out of bed in the morning and get lost in your endless to-do list, sit on the edge of your bed and take 10 mindful breaths (3 second inhale, 4 second exhale).
- Mindful eating: before you eat each meal, take 5 slow and conscious breaths. This will improve digestion and nutrient absorption.
- Mindful moving: when you’re exercising, move in time with your breath and ensure you breathe into your lower belly to prevent back injuries.
- Mindful meetings: when you’re meeting with friends, family or work colleagues, being mindful of how your breathing will help to keep you present and focused on the conversation.
- Mindful bed-time: sleep is another one of the most important things for our health, but it can often be impacted by our restless minds. Taking 10 slow, deep and conscious breaths when you get into bed at night will help clear your mind, relax your body and set you up for a restful sleep.
With every breath, we are changing the chemistry and health of our body. Like Joseph Pilates said (yes, the guy that created Pilates):
“Above all, learn to breathe correctly” – Joseph Pilates
Caelum Trott is a physiotherapist and the director of Vital Aspect. Vital Aspect create online health and wellbeing programs on nutrition, fitness, mindfulness and energy.