How to Breathe the Right Way
I have only ever had one patient who said that he had no stress. He had a lot of medical conditions and took many medications but he did not feel stressed. Every other patient has always felt they were under a lot of stress. The current pandemic has markedly escalated almost everyone’s stress level and countless scientific studies have proven that stress results in disease. While we have limited control over the outside world, we have total control on howwe react to it. We can learn to prevent the negative effects stress causes on our health through some very simple techniques. Diaphragmatic breathing is quite simple, but you need some guidance because it is somewhat subtle. It does take practice over a few months to fully perfect it and make it automatic so I recommend you practice it every day. It is helpful to put little “BREATHE” signs up that frequently remind you to practice (on your fridge, bathroom mirror, your car dashboard, etc). The signs will remind you to check in on your breathing and see if you are breathing with your chest or your abdomen and then practice a correction for a few breaths. If you do not practice, you will not be able to make it your normal way to breathe. The benefits are awesome!!!
The Diaphragmatic Breathing Technique:
- Lie down on your back. It’s hard to chest breathe while lying down.
- Now place your hand on your abdomen and notice how it rises slightly when you inhale and goes down when you exhale. This movement is the hallmark of breathing with your diaphragm. If you are breathing with your chest, your hand will not elevate during the inhale, but will instead drop down. If you are naturally breathing with your diaphragm While lying down, you are well on your way. If it isn’t natural for you, don’t worry. Just give it a bit more time. You’ll get it soon enough.
- After you finally become familiar with the feel of diaphragmatic breathing, I would like for you to practice an exaggerated form by contracting your abdominal muscles inward (sucking in your gut) as you exhale the air from your lungs. Then expand the same muscles outward to inhale. Keep practicing this technique until you can breathe fully and somewhat deeply without moving your chest.
- Once you have learned this exaggerated form lying down, try the same thing while sitting in a chair, and then while standing. Finally, to perfect your newly discovered “talent,” try doing it while you are singing in the shower or exercising. You can then proudly announce to friends and family that you have at last learned to breathe correctly!