Sometimes I forget to breathe. Like last night, while I sat on the edge of my seat, watching election results come in. Good thing God designed breathing as an involuntary body function. Like when your automatic transmission is in ‘drive’ and it shifts itself.
Without thinking about it, we just breathe.
God also designed breathing as a voluntary body function. Like your manually controlled transmission which requires your involvement to get to the right gear. Obviously, there’s great value in this breathing control option when you’re diving to the bottom of the pool.
What may not be as obvious is the tremendous value controlled breathing has as an aid for managing stress.
As a health educator, I taught a simple breathing technique called ‘deep diaphragmatic breathing’ to my classes when we discussed stress management. No hocus pocus, mysticism, or new age stuff. We simply practiced taking long, deep breaths as an easy relaxation strategy that can be done anywhere, anytime. Many of the people discovered they were automatically taking rapid, shallow breaths, not only in stressful situations but much of the day. Could this contribute to anxiety? Very possibly.
This was a popular health promotion activity and I’d like to share it with you.
- Sit in a comfortable position using good posture.
- Place your right hand on your chest and left hand on your abdomen.
- Slowly inhale through your nose. Notice the rise of your hands. Your left hand should rise slightly. Breathe out slowly through your mouth. Your left hand should fall. There should be little or no movement in your right hand.
- Take another long, slow inhalation. Exhale at an equally slow rate. Let your shoulders and muscles relax as you exhale.
- Practice a couple more times focusing on the rise and fall of your abdomen.
Have you ever watched a baby sleep? Of course you have. Probably your own. You can see their tummy rise and fall naturally with each breath. Think of all the things our children teach us! Thank God for those little sleeping angels. Maybe it’s just me, but the waking up part is when I’m reminded most to relax, enjoy, and just breathe. Deeply and often!
Remember to breathe!