Another minor–but important–project. We need to learn to just breathe and do it right! As technology improves by the day, we live in a world that is increasingly convenient and global. Logically, it seems like life should be getting easier for the average individual; isn’t that the point of technological progress, after all? In reality, the increasing complexity of the world around us is responsible for adding a lot of anxiety and stress in our lives. Sure, most of us don’t have to worry about whether our crops will grow this year or catching our next meal, but we do feel stress for different (if less existence-threatening) reasons. Balancing our checkbooks, finding (and keeping) a job, even traffic can leave us on edge and stress us out every day. Everyone knows that constant stress has physical consequences on an individual, but do you know what they are and how to prevent them?
According to the Cleveland Clinic, a person experiencing stress may experience elevated blood pressure, pulse, headaches, body aches, and even diarrhea (ew!) While the link between stress and disease is not perfectly understood, the Cleveland Clinic explains that the relationship is a two way street: illness may cause physical stress, while prolonged stress may cause physical illness. Even for the most health-conscious, this vicious cycle is easy to fall into. While there are obvious ways to treat illness (medication, therapy, etc.), treating the stress itself is fundamental for both short- and long-term wellness.
Deep breathing is one of the most effective ways to reduce stress, anxiety, and lethargy (you know, that 2:30 feeling?). While not all of us can be yoga masters, we can all benefit from the relaxation and alertness diferent sorts of deep breathing can provide. With enough practice, deep breathing becomes a reflex that replaces the shallow, constricted breathing so many of us have developed. According to a publication from the Harvard Medical School, “Reawakening it allows you to tap one of your body’s strongest self-healing mechanisms.”
So, for the next twenty-eight days, your goal is to practice diaphragmatic breathing for at least ten minutes a day. This session can be broken into two or stretched out longer, but it must be done every day. Make sure you are in a quiet, dark room where you can avoid disturbances. For ten minutes, focus on nothing but using your nose to slowly inhale as much as possible before exhaling. It may help to put your hand on your abdomen to feel the scope of the rise and fall. Throughout the day, feel free to add these sessions in less relaxing environments and in shorter time increments– the more you can practice, the more quickly you will improve your deep breathing abilities.
This is an easy one– are you ready to start this self-improvement project? Your body will thank you!