When it comes to stress reduction and meditation exercises, there are specific ways to breathe that will help you achieve specific goals. Knowing some tricks that will help calm your mind and relax your body will help you ensure you’re making the most of your breathing. While the exact technique will vary depending on what you are trying to do, there are some basics to keep in mind.
How Breathing Wrong Can Affect Your Mind and Body
Getting enough oxygen helps your body operate better in several areas. However, if you aren’t breathing the right way, it can be difficult for your body to get the resources it needs to run efficient processes. Here are some ways breathing wrong can affect your mind and body, and what you can expect to see when you breathe correctly.
Anyone who suffers from sleep apnea will know that breathing wrong can seriously mess with your ability to get a good night’s sleep.
Sleep studies have shown that those who take less breaths per minute get better quality sleep. This is because people who breathe properly have the right amount of oxygen and CO2 in their tissue cells. Breathing too quickly makes your muscles tense, which makes it more difficult for your body to get the correct oxygen and CO2 levels. This decreases the amount of oxygen available to your body, and causes you to continue to breathe quickly in an attempt to bring in more oxygen. Because your body’s oxygen levels already decrease when you sleep, having them drop even further can put your body on red alert. This can cause you to jolt awake, and make it difficult to get deep sleep.
Breathing too quickly is likely to make your body tense up. When you go into fight or flight mode, your body causes you to breath faster in an attempt to bring in more oxygen and CO2 quickly. When your body is caught in a state of breathing quickly, it puts your brain on high alert for danger.
Being tense all of the time and breathing quickly without thinking about it is likely to lead to general feelings of anxiety and worry about the future. However, slowing your breathing down is an easy way to circumvent these anxious feelings.
Strains Your Brain
20% of the oxygen in your body goes to feeding your brain, so when your body is low on oxygen, it takes a heavy toll on your brain. Less oxygen means your energy and cognition will be lacking, and it’ll get harder for your brain to regulate body functions.
When your brain doesn’t get the oxygen it needs, not only will your thinking be affected, but all of your body could suffer as well. Because the brain controls everything that goes on in the body, any system, organ, or muscle is subject to problems when you don’t have the right amount of oxygen.
How to Breathe Properly
Breathing the wrong way can create some serious issues. How can you know if your breathing patterns are what your body needs, or if you need to change what you’re doing? Chances are, if you feel winded going up the stairs, get tired easily, or feel like you can’t focus, you aren’t breathing right. However, learning how to breathe again is easy and can be fixed in no time. Here are the steps you need to take in order to help your body get the oxygen it needs.
- Breathe through your nose. When you breathe through your mouth, your lungs have to deal with pollutants in the air. Breathing through your nose helps filter out dust, bacteria, and other things that have no business being in your lungs.
- Breathe deeply: breathing deep helps your lungs work at full capacity, which makes you more likely to get the oxygen that you need. More oxygen means that your body is able to relax and your brain has the resources it needs to concentrate on the task at hand. Breathing deeply also helps your mind realize that you aren’t in any danger, and makes it easier for you to relax.
- Breathe from your diaphragm instead of your chest: when you’re breathing properly, you’ll feel it in your gut instead of your lungs. This is because the diaphragm is the big muscle in your respiratory system. When it contracts, it creates room in your chest cavity for more oxygen to come in. Some of you might feel self conscious about breathing from your diaphragm, because it means your stomach will bulge. However, this is only temporary, and the benefits are worthwhile.
- Try to be relaxed: if your muscles are tense, it will interfere with your ability to breathe well. Stressed breathing makes it difficult for your body to get the right amount of oxygen, which can lead to some of the issues mentioned above. If you’re not used to breathing this way, take the time to relax your body. Make sure you release any tension that might be in your jaw, stomach, or hands.
- Keep to a rhythm: the autonomic breathing process follows a rhythm. If you try to breathe out of a rhythm, it will be difficult to maintain and may end up creating stress instead of reducing it. Keeping to an easy to remember rhythm will help you integrate the other aspects of breathing properly, and make it easier for you to change your breathing pattern.
- Focus on the exhale: Along with getting enough oxygen, you want to make sure your body is releasing CO2 and other toxins released in your breathe. Subpar exhales will only release 70% of the stale air in your lungs, keeping those toxins in your body. Making an effort to completely empty the air out of your lungs will increase the quality of your next inhale, and create a better overall breathing cycle.
- Move your belly in and out: because breathing starts in the diaphragm, proper breathing means inflating and deflating your belly. On the inhale, you want your belly to fill with air and get big. Then, when you’re ready to exhale, you want your stomach to flatten, and even create a concave shape. When you’re first learning to breathe, you’ll need to focus on moving your stomach in time with your breath. But as you get used to it, your stomach will automatically expand and deflate.
- Prepare your space for relaxation: when you first start trying to change your breath, it can feel like you have too many things to track all at once. Until proper breathing becomes easier to practice, find a space where you’re unlikely to get interrupted. Put your phone, computer, and other devices away for a few minutes, and create a clean space to breathe in. You don’t have to be here long, but having a space that promotes relaxation will make it easier for you to breathe in a healthy way.
- Schedule a time for breathing every day: most everyone is busy and feels like they don’t have time to try something new. However, if you put breathing practice into your schedule, you’re more likely to follow through and spend a few minutes working on breathing correctly. If morning works better for you, wake up a little earlier each day. Find a time that fits into your schedule and stick to it.
Spire Can Help You Learn to Breathe Again
Spire uses several sensors to track your breathing patterns. It measures the expansion and contraction of your chest and stomach, as well as breath speed to figure out how you are feeling.
If you are intimidated by all of the things you need to keep track of when it comes to learning to breathe again, spire can take the stress out of changing your breathe. The device’s breath tracking will help you recognize periods of tension and stress. If you’re stressed for more than a few minutes, your mobile app will walk you through a short breathing exercise to help relieve some of your tension. It will also help you recognize periods of calm so you can recognize when you’re breathing correctly. Using Spire to change your breathing can help you improve your mental focus, increase your quality of sleep, and avoid common digestive issues.
You’ve been breathing for your whole life, so you might be hesitant to reteach yourself how to breathe. However, in just a few minutes a day, you can learn proper breathing techniques and increase your overall oxygen levels. Better breathing means your mind will function better, your stomach will calm, and you’ll sleep better. Sounds like a great deal, right?