Daily Breathing Activities
Thursday, October 7, 2021
Breathing is something we do every day without thinking about it. However, pausing to check how you breathe can benefit your health.
Stress can cause breathing difficulties. When you have problems with your breathing, you lower the amount of carbon dioxide that’s normally in your blood. This leads to a wide range of symptoms, including:
• Shortness of breath
• Chest tightness
• Tingling or numbness in the arms, fingers, toes, or around the mouth
• Feeling dizzy and light-headed
• Heart pounding and racing
• Heart palpitations
• Sweating or hot flushes
• Feeling sick
These symptoms can appear out of the blue and can also lead to panic attacks.
Your breathing difficulties may be related to:
• Shallow breathing (breathing in too quickly)
• Over-breathing (breathing in more air because you feel like you’re not getting enough). Examples of over-breathing include yawning or sighing frequently.
Test your breathing:
1. Put one hand on your chest and one on your belly.
2. Breathe for a few seconds. Which hand rises?
3. If it’s your chest, you might have developed a habit of shallow breathing.
You can reverse the habit of shallow breathing with daily practice. The next time you feel anxious, take a moment to notice your breathing. Focus on breathing through your stomach so that your belly rises when you inhale and drops when you exhale.
Here’s a belly breathing exercise you can practice for 5 to 10 minutes a day:
• Inhale gently, lightly, and slowly count to four, expanding your belly as you do so
• Hold that breath for a count of two
• Slowly exhale though your mouth for a count of six
This is called belly breathing, and research shows that practicing regularly can help you feel calmer in weeks.