How a Simple Deep Breath Can Do Wonders

Here’s a really simple and quick practice for you to try this month to help you be calm and present throughout the day. It’s as simple as… Taking a Deep Breath! 

Many of you will have learnt the STOP practice when you did a workshop or course with me. This is a practice to do regularly throughout the day for 1 minute – you Stop, Take a Breath, Open to How You’re Feeling, and then Proceed with your day.

What I’d like you to try is to make the Take a Breath part a DEEP breath – just slow it down and really deepen the breath by expanding your belly. And the next part is key – it needs to be a breath through your nose (not your mouth)!

Here’s how it works:

  1. Research has shown that when you take a deep breath you fill the lower parts of your lungs – this gives your body and brain the message that everything is fine (shallow breaths are associated with stressful events). Deeper breaths activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which enables the relaxation response (go here to read a detailed explanation of this by neuroscientist, Dr. Rick Hansen.)
  2. Breathe through the nostrils – this also relaxes the body because breathing through the nose helps regulate the volume of air breathed so that it can match the body’s oxygen needs. You get less oxygen in your blood stream when you breathe through your mouth.
  3. Do the breath mindfully – focus on the physical sensations of the breath and how your body and mind is feeling in the present.

Here’s my prescription for you: Do this deep breath once an hour throughout your day.

And remember: don’t just breathe, DEEP BREATHE!

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