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Practice Better Breathing to Improve Overall Wellness

We breathe in, we breathe out—what else is there to know?

Believe it or not, many of us are doing it wrong and that’s a problem. Improper breathing has a negative impact on your overall health and wellness. It’s an automatic process that we may not think about too much. But when you’re in the habit of breathing incorrectly, it can lead to a host of health problems, such as:

  • Poor oxygenation of the body and brain

  • Increased levels of stress and anxiety

  • Chronic fatigue and low energy levels

  • Headaches and migraines

  • Muscle tension and pain

  • Sleep disorders and insomnia

  • Gastrointestinal issues

  • Decreased lung capacity and respiratory problems

  • Impaired mental clarity and concentration

  • Weakened immune system

Healthy Breathing vs Unhealthy Breathing

Improper breathing is inefficient breathing. This can include shallow breathing, mouth breathing, holding the breath, filling your chest when you inhale instead of your belly, or breathing at an abnormally fast or slow rate. Improper breathing can disrupt the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the body, leading to a range of physical and mental health problems.

When we breathe correctly, on the other hand, we take in deep breaths that fill our lungs and allow oxygen to reach all the cells in our body. Oxygen not only keeps us alive, it’s essential for the functioning of vital organs like your brain, heart, and muscles. Healthy breathing is slow, deep, and controlled.

Being aware of your breathing patterns and regulating them throughout the day doesn’t take much effort. We’ll cover a few breathing techniques, but learning to improve your breathing can be as simple as taking deep breaths and focusing on your breathing for a few minutes. It’s an easy way to slow your heart rate to calm yourself and reduce negative emotions.

What Can Proper Breathing Do For You?

Along with numerous physical health benefits, improved breathing boosts mental wellness too.

When you’re stressed, your breathing naturally becomes shallow and rapid. Shallow, rapid breathing tends to lead to feelings of anxiety and panic, which none of us need when we’re already stressed. Healthy breathing patterns reduce stress, anxiety, and panic. Not only that, it promotes the release of endorphins (those awesome mood-boosting chemicals in your brain), which decreases symptoms of depression.

If you toss and turn at night, improved breathing can help with that too. Because it slows your heart rate, deep breathing calms and soothes restlessness and agitation. Basically, it helps you stop staring at the ceiling so you can drift off to sleep instead.

And there are physical health benefits, too. Deep breathing improves lung function, increases circulation, and reduces blood pressure. The increased amount of oxygen in your body allows for better endurance and boosts your strength, which improves athletic performance. Better breathing habits even improve digestion by stimulating the muscles in the stomach and intestines.

3 of the Most Effective Techniques for Proper Breathing

With so many amazing benefits, it’s worth teaching yourself to correct your breathing. Here are the most popular and beneficial breathing techniques you can use anywhere. If you can retain just one, you’ll have it in your self-care arsenal for everyday use.

Belly Breathing

Also known as diaphragmatic breathing, this technique involves taking deep breaths that fill the lungs and cause your chest to expand. To practice belly breathing, sit or lie down in a comfortable position and place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Take a deep breath in through your nose, allowing your stomach to rise as you fill your lungs. Exhale slowly through your mouth, allowing your stomach to fall. Repeat this process for several minutes.

4-7-8 Breathing

This technique involves counting as you inhale and exhale. Sit or lie down in a comfortable position and take a deep breath in for a count of 4. Hold your breath for a count of 7, then exhale for a count of 8. Repeat this process for several minutes.

Alternate Nostril Breathing

To practice alternate nostril breathing, sit or lie down in a comfortable position and hold your right thumb over your right nostril. Take a deep breath in through your left nostril, then hold your right index finger over your left nostril and release your thumb from your right nostril. Exhale through your right nostril. Repeat this process for several minutes.

From Practice to Habit

Practicing controlled breathing is a free, fast, and easy way to boost your overall wellness. Pay attention to your breathing patterns and experiment with different techniques until you find one you can incorporate into your daily life. It may take some time to get used to proper breathing but with consistent practice, it will soon become an effortless habit.


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