Take a Minute to Breathe

Breathing is one of the best ways to unwind, relax, and lower stress levels. Taking a minute for some mindful breathing several times a day will help clear your mind and relax your body. Let’s explore why breathing techniques are used to relax you and improve your health.

Breathing and Stress

Breathing is one of the most powerful and natural functions of the human body. If we don’t breath correctly, we might feel stressed often or even have frequent headaches and sleeping problems.

Breathing and stress are tightly correlated. When we get stressed out, we tend to breathe at a fast and much more shallow rate, which can increase blood pleasure and feelings of anxiety.

Another problem with breathing is that we often aren’t using the right muscles to breathe. The primary muscle that is involved in breathing is the diaphragm, which is located in the stomach region. Often times, we use accessory muscles in the neck and chest to breath instead of our diaphragm. You may not realize it, but this has a negative effect on your neck, given we take  23,000 breathes per day. This is usually why we get tension headaches stemming up the back and sides of your neck.

Regular sleep will also help relax your body. While sleeping, your body will naturally breathe deeply and slowly.

Breathing Exercise

Try this breathing exercise when you’re feeling stressed or before bed!

Instructions:

  1. Lie down on your back with your legs propped up in the air. They can be low or high in the air. (Whatever is most comfortable to you.)
  2. Place your hands on your stomach.
  3. Now, take a giant breath in through your nose. The trick here is that we want your stomach to rise. We do not want your chest to rise. So, the objective is to make your stomach and hands rise as you take a giant breath in though your nose.
  4. Now, exhale out your mouth for 10 seconds.
  5. Repeat 10 times.

This form of breathing is called Diaphragmatic Breathing. This technique is used in many yoga classes and many stress management programs. It has the power to take your body from a fight-or-flight response to a relaxed state, which is why it is so effective.

I hope this helps get you through your week if you’re stressed out! Let me know if you have any other questions about how this exercise is performed. Feel free to schedule a fitness consultation for any help or if you’d like to start a new exercise program!

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Matthew Bishop Personal Trainer at Elite Sports Clubs

Written by Matthew Bishop, Certified Personal Trainer at Elite Sports Club – North Shore and Elite Sports Club – River Glen.

Matthew has a B.S. in Sports and Exercise Science from Wisconsin Lutheran College, is an American College of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer, and Certified in Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS). He specializes in Sports Performance, Strength and Conditioning, Injury Prevention, Health and Wellness, & Functional Training. Matthew lives by the philosophy of “Anything worth having is worth fighting for” – Susan Phillips and he believes that if you want something, then go get it, and don’t stop till you do.

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