Mindfulness gives you time. Time gives you choices, Choices, skillfully made, lead to freedom.Henepola Gunaratana
Deep breathing is a skill you are born with, it’s innate. If you’ve seen an infant breath when sleeping you are likely familiar with deep breathing. Picture the chest and belly of an infant breathing and you will see the belly raising more than the chest. This is deep breathing at its most basic level. Breathing is a simple way to practice mindfulness in your daily routine. My smartwatch reminds me to slow down and take a few deep breaths every few hours. You can be mindful with ease when technology encourages you to do so, just don’t swipe the reminder notification away without doing the deep breathing!
If you are really interested in mindfulness and deep breathing I encourage you to check out the Calm app. It’s a great app with master classes taught by experts in the field, dozens of meditations you can use to deal with anxiety or difficult emotions, sleep stories for bedtime, and a daily calm mediation that arrives every morning. I’ve used Calm seriously for the past several months and really enjoy the quality of the app and I hope you do as well if you give it a shot.
The deep breathing that an infant does is something that is natural and over time we learn to take short and shallow breaths from our chest. Short shallow breaths don’t delivery the essential oxygen that we need. Deep breathing has 3 incredible impacts on the human body, be sure to read my What Deep Breathing Does to Your Body blog post to learn more.
To begin with deep breathing sit or stand with a straight back and place one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest. Take notice which is rising more, your chest or stomach. Deep breathing comes from the stomach and is really working your diaphragm. Picture and feel your stomach expanding as your inhale through your nose for a count of 5 seconds. When you exhale picture and feel your stomach flattening for a count of 5 seconds. This is deep breathing! To get the most benefits of deep breathing you should do for at minimum 1 minute but I encourage you to do a few minutes if possible.
Deep breathing activates the opposite response of your nervous system that is responsible for the fight or flight response. Deep breathing activates the rest and digest part of the nervous system that helps your body calm down and return to baseline or homeostasis.
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Remember, no great misery goes unnoticed, if you are struggling with your mental health, be sure to reach out to a qualified mental health professional. If you are considering suicide please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK, call 9-1-1, or visit the closest emergency room.
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Jeff Simms is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Board Certified Counselor in private practice in Grand Blanc, Michigan. Jeff works with adults that want to get better dealing with their anxiety, depression, PTSD, and marriage.