Breathing is essential to life. But did you know that how you breathe can be important, too? Take an inventory, right now, of how your body is positioned as you’re reading this. Are you sitting up straight? Or are you slumped in your chair or hunched over the keyboard? If you are not sitting up straight, your lungs can’t expand to their full capacity, which means you are not taking in enough oxygen. Imagine a string attached to your body that goes up through the top of your head to the ceiling. Now make sure that string is in a straight line. You should be sitting with your back as straight as possible; your chin at a 90 degree angle to the floor; your shoulders relaxed; your feet flat on the floor so your thighs are parallel to the floor. This opens up your chest cavity and allows your diaphragm and lungs to expand properly. Sitting tense and hunched over a desk or computer keyboard will make you tired.
Place one hand on your abdomen. As you breathe in (through your nose, not your mouth) focus on moving your diaphragm so your hand moves outward. Now slightly open your mouth and ‘whoosh’ out your breath. Repeat. Did you feel your body relax as you exhaled? This is a simple breathing exercise you can do any time during the day to relieve stress. You only need to do this 2 or 3 times to feel more relaxed.
Here’s another one: Place the tip of the tongue between your 2 front upper teeth. Now breathe in through your nose to the count of 4 while focusing on your abdominal breathing; hold the breath for the count of 7; exhale through your mouth to the count of 8. This exercise should be done while lying down the first few times as it may make you feel dizzy if you are not used to deep breathing.
And finally: if you have trouble falling asleep because your mind won’t ‘turn off’ here’s an exercise to try. Breathing normally, count the number of times you exhale up to 4; then start again. So 1,2,3,4,1,2,3,4, etc. By focusing on your breathing, you are telling your mind to be quiet so you can relax and sleep.
Let me know if these work for you, or if you have other suggestions.
Thanks for reading!