The Happy Wellness Room
Why pay so much attention to something that happens without conscious thought? We’re going to breathe regardless of what we’re thinking about or doing, right? True enough, but learning how to maximize each breath can have tremendous benefits on the mind and body. The American Lung Association tells us, “Like aerobic exercise improves your heart function and strengthens your muscles, breathing exercises can make your lungs more efficient” (2022). They explain that air gets trapped in the lungs, and becomes “stale”. This air must be removed, and the most effective way to do this is deep breathing. Deeply breathing just five to ten minutes per day is enough to help the diaphragm work better and improve oxygen levels (Why breathing exercises help). Additionally, deep breathing was found to “increase comfort, relaxation, pleasantness, vigor, and alertness” in a review by Zaccaro, et al. (2018). The authors also found decreased levels of [non-sexual] “arousal, anxiety, depression, anger, and confusion” (Results) as a direct result of the participants’ deep breathing activities.
Deep breathing is how the lungs are supposed to work, but many of us become so stressed that we breathe short, ragged, quick breaths, “which increase tension and anxiety” (Harvard Health Publishing, 2020). There are many techniques to try, and none are one-size-fits-all. You should explore several options before deciding which to pursue.
“Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure.” - Oprah Winfrey