breathing differently could improve your life

How breathing differently could improve your life


We do it more than 20,000 times per day, but most of us rarely stop to think about it. Now however, due to COVID, we may be thinking about breathing more than ever. 

We may have worried about the breath of a person approaching us, without a mask, who might infect us. We may have worried that, when wearing a mask, we are not getting a good breath. And for those who were moderately or severely infected with COVID, getting a good breath may have been their main concern. 

One reason breath is so interesting is that it can be something we worry about—as in these examples—but also can be a positive force we can harness to our benefit. Breathing in certain ways can increase our energy, stop a panic attack, help us fall asleep, or just relax. 

As simple as breathing seems, you can find countless techniques describing exactly how you should breathe if you want a certain result. You can take days-long workshops that deal just with breathing. But here, we focus on two simple but seemingly opposite goals— how to use your breathing to get energized and how to use it to relax. 

To Get More Energy

Have you wondered why babies, despite their small size, are capable of such loud screaming? One reason is that they breathe using their diaphragm muscle (the big muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen). Unlike babies, most adults have become predominantly upper chest breathers. We expand our lungs by using the muscles between our ribs and that attach to our shoulders. However, in this way we don’t really expand the lower part of our lungs, so we are not using their full potential.

To expand the lower part of our lungs better, we have to breathe more like babies, and use our diaphragm muscle, which, when activated and lowered, expands both the lower and upper lungs. This should increase our blood oxygen level, lower our blood pressure and pulse rate, and make us feel more alert and energetic.

You can find a number of different formulas for how many seconds you should inhale, hold your breath, and exhale, but let’s make it real simple. Sit up straight in a chair, and put your hands on your stomach. Inhale through your nose deeply and slowly, and breath into your stomach. As you breathe in, feel your stomach pushing outward on your hands. Then slowly exhale as your stomach pushes inward and upward. Repeat a few times. That’s all. If you want a formula for how many seconds for each phase, experiment and find out what works best for you. 

Incorporate this breathing technique into your daily routine, such as when you wake up, before exercise, or anytime you want more energy.

To Relax

When you are feeling anxious, frightened, or just uncomfortable, your “sympathetic” nervous system is activated. You breathe faster, more shallowly, and more with your upper chest muscles. Some of us, especially during the pandemic, are in a constant state of sympathetic stimulation. The rapid shallow breathing may create a viscous cycle effect: the faster and shallower you breathe, the more anxious you become, and this feeds on itself.

The way to stop this cycle is to focus on breathing slowly, deeply, and from the diaphragm. This sort of breathing stimulates the other part of your nervous system—the parasympathetic system—which works on your brain to calm and relax you. 

So when you find yourself overwhelmed, maybe too much bad news, uncertainty, or just an excess of stimulation from any source, take your mind off your distractions and concentrate on your breathing, slow and deep. This sort of breathing can also stop a panic attack. 

Your breathing is the principal bodily function that you can consciously alter. It is free, needs no medications, and can be done anywhere. Use it to your benefit! 

To find a doctor, of any specialty, anywhere in Brazil, check out our website:

See also in ProcuraMed:

Why blood pressure medication is so important during times of COVID

You can walk in a healthier way—here is how

Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)

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