It seems like a normal function. One you do without even thinking about it. Breathing keeps us alive. It energizes and warms our bodies. It massages our internal organs. It brings us life.
While breathing is beneficial, we often forget about the simplistic nature of it, especially when we need it most.
We stub our toe and the first thing we do is hold our breath.
When we’re frightened or caught off guard, we hold our breath.
When we’re upset, we loose control of our breath, oftentimes sending our mind and body into panic.
For many people, at least once a day, something happens that leaves their body feeling tense. When you’re angry, tensed or scared, your muscles become tight and your breathing becomes shallow. Your breathing constricts, preventing your body from getting the oxygen it needs. Long, deep breathing reverses fight or flight, allowing your body (and mind) to become calmer.
What if we got into the habit of taking control of our breathing when the rest of our body wants to panic?
When you’re feeling stressed or tense, find a quiet place. Sit down. Close your eyes and draw your awareness to your breath. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you might notice that the pace of your breath is fast, and your heart rate has also sped up. Begin to lengthen your inhalations, try to breathe in to the count of 10, and then slowly breathe out to the count of 10.
With your eyes closed, picture the breath moving through your body. Picture the breath traveling from your belly, finding its’ way up into your lungs, filling your lungs, watching your lungs expand, feeling your physical upper body expand. Then watch it move back down your body as your lungs compress and empty, and your belly does the same.
Sit here. Repeat this simple breathing exercise for as long as you can. Try starting with 10 rounds of inhaling and exhaling. You might notice that you’ve forgotten what made you upset. Your heart rate has found a slower, steady rhythm.
Not convinced that breathing is that powerful?
While breathing helps manage stress and relax your body, it also offers a gamete of other benefits.
- Natural painkiller – deep breathing allows the body to release endorphins which are the “feel good” hormones and a natural pain killer created by your own body.
- Improves everything! Blood flow, circulation and digestion – the diaphragm movement from deep breathing helps remove toxins from the body which promotes better blood flow. With more blood flow, we get more oxygen into our blood which also results in increased energy levels. Increased blood flow also encourages intestinal action which improves your overall digestion. Deep breathing results in a calmer nervous system, which in turn also enhances optimal digestion.
- Reduces Inflammation – while stress increases the acidity level in the body, deep breathing reduces it. Therefore, breathing reduces acidity and stress in the body, which can cause inflammation.
- Detox! When we take shallow breaths, our detoxification system works harder to release carbon dioxide, which can lead to illness and a weaker body overall. It also detoxes our lymphatic system since our breath is what moves the lymph. Deep breathing gets our lymphatic system flowing so our body can work more efficiently.
At Mosaic Virginia, we care about you, our clients, and we know that life is stressful. Perhaps you’re experiencing an unplanned pregnancy. Maybe you’re considering an abortion or looking into abortion alternatives. It’s possible you just tested positive for an STI. Whatever it is, just take a breath. We’re here for you. Schedule an appointment with us in a confidential, non-judgmental setting. And, in the meantime, remember, where your breath flows, your mind goes.