By: Lauren Whitman, Certified Health Coach, MBA
What if I told you that you can improve your health by simply breathing? That’s right, simply breathing. It’s amazing how just your breath can be such a mood changing activity – and it’s free!
Many people breath in a shallow manner. Shallow breathing may be caused by a stressful environment or by increased pressure on your time, or on your mind. It may be a response to fear about the future of your job, your home or your family and friends. It may be because excess weight has put pressure on your lungs so there isn’t room to expand as much as needed. You may breathe shallowly because you always have!
Test yourself and see if you breathe in a shallow way. When you breathe, does your stomach area between your ribs and your hips move? Stand in front of a mirror. Do your shoulders rise and fall? Your stomach should move and your shoulders shouldn’t. Try holding your shoulders down and breath – seems odd but it can calm you – just by focusing on that!
You may be pre-programmed to ask “Is there an app for that?” Well, the good news is that there is – but the even-better news is that you don’t need one! There are a variety of breathing techniques promoted online. Most are valuable and work generally the same. Finding one that resonates with you is the only challenge – and it’s free.
One technique that is useful for calming your body and mind is 4-7-8 breathing. To do it, first, sit or lay down for safety. Now focus on the following breathing pattern: … breathe in quietly through your nose for 4 seconds. hold the breath for a count of 7 seconds. exhale forcefully through your mouth, pursing the lips and making a “whoosh” sound, for 8 seconds. repeat the cycle up to 4 times. If you need to use a shorter pattern to start, breathe in through the nose for 2 seconds, hold the breath for a count of 3.5 seconds, then exhale through the mouth for 4 seconds.
Best-selling author and founder/director of the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine Dr. Andrew Weil teaches the 4-7-8 breathing technique, which he believes can help reduce anxiety, control or reduce anger responses, help a person get to sleep, and assist in managing cravings. Dr Weil encourages using this technique several times each day to develop it into a habit and to have longer term benefits. According to some advocates of 4-7-8 breathing, the longer and more frequently you use the technique, the more effective it becomes. Practice this technique for 3 minutes at the start and end of your day – you’ll be amazed at the results – and it’s just breathing!
ABOUT LAUREN WHITMAN
Lauren Whitman, is a Certified Health Coach with training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and OPTAVIA as well as a BS in Psychology and Sociology and a Masters degree in Business. Lauren lives in Gateway with her husband Mike. You can reach out to Lauren for a FREE Health Assessment by email at email@example.com or by phone at 207-215-6767.