Mindful breathing....ok, stay with me...this isn't some silly meditation, monks-in-silence, only-something-those-yoga-hippies-do type of thing...
What is Mindful Breathing?
Mindful breathing is a quick and effective way to deal with all those little stressors throughout your day. We all know stress has negative impacts on our body (aging the heart and brain, makes you fat, suppresses sex drive, etc.), so taking a deep breath can actually activate your calming nerves. Deep, relaxed breathing turns up our parasympathetic nervous system (which lowers the levels of circulating stress hormones) and turns down our sympathetic nervous system (the fight-or-flight mechanism). When you feel your body tensing up, stop and take a breath break. You can actually feel the tension leaving your body as you exhale; you can relax, reload, and get back to the task at hand.
Take a Breath Break
What is a breath break??
- Deeply inhale through your nose to a count of 4. Deep breathing through your nose stimulates nitric oxide (your body’s own vasodilator), which dilates the blood vessels and airways, improving oxygen delivery.
- Hold your breath and count to 2 (or 4). Imagine relaxing scenes, pray, and/or think of relaxing thoughts while pausing.
- Slowly exhale through your nose for a count of 6 (or 8). Imagine the toxins leaving your body.
- Repeat 3 or 4 times and as many times throughout the day as needed!!
This breath break should come from the belly and be rhythmic and slow; never jerky. Not only does this type of breathing relax the mind, it also delivers more oxygen to your entire body!
Source: Sears, William. (2010). Prime-Time Health: A Scientifically Proven Plan for Feeling Young and Living Longer. Little, Brown Spark.