Time Out

Stop and Take a Breath

Breathing is something we take for granted. It just happens as it should. But studies show that you should consciously take several intentionally deep breaths a day to aid digestion, promote relaxation and improve your sleep.

Learning to Breathe

I learned to breathe properly because I’m an accomplished singer/songwriter and performer. But, I still sometimes forget to consciously breathe when I’m at work, writing a grant, teaching a class or in a meeting. Sometimes, the day will be so busy that by the time I get home, it’s a quick dinner (that I might inhale!) and bed time. I’ll lie down and feel so overwhelmed that I can’t fall asleep. Then I’ll remember to breathe….and things settle down almost immediately.

Someone once told me that when they inhale too deeply, they become slightly dizzy and feel a tingling sensation in the face. Because of my curious nature, I researched it. Interestingly, there is a reason it’s called “diaphragm breathing”.  We singers do this all the time. When you inhale, allow your abdomen to expand. Beginners should lie down and not hold the breath long. Just practice expanding the stomach while inhaling. This technique can prevent the release of carbon dioxide too quickly, which can potentially cause dizziness and/or tingling. Perhaps that’s why I never experienced a breathing side effect.

The biggest reasons to breathe deeply through the day are to control stress hormones, help food digest and create a relaxed environment at bed time. I have started a routine for myself: I stand tall in the morning and take 7 slow deep diaphragm breaths before I do anything else. I repeat this prior to a busy meeting, and before eating. I’ll often go outside and breathe in the fresh air. I also stretch while doing these breaths. I cannot tell you how much this simple act has improved my workday!

If you have a great relaxation technique or understand the concept of deep breathing, feel free to comment. I’d like to hear from you!