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Belly or Chest Breather?

Welcome to Week 8 of 52 Healthy Habits 2021 Edition!  

How are you doing on your healthy habits? Don't worry if you aren't ready to move on to this week's habit. Stick with the habit that you really need to keep working on until it becomes a habit. 
 

So, for this week the first thing I want you to do is place your right hand on your chest and your left hand on your abdomen. Take a big breath by inhaling through your nose or your mouth (whichever is most natural for you), slowly. Really fill your lungs, and note which hand rises more. Did your right hand move first and most, with your left hand lagging behind – if it moved at all? Did your shoulders go up? Did your traps rise like you were shrugging a couple dumbbells? Congratulations, you are a chest breather.

Now, let's do this exercise again...place your right hand on the center of your chest and your left hand on your abdomen. On the inhalation, try to keep your right hand still as you focus on your left hand rising. On the exhalation, focus on the left hand falling. Give equal length to inhalations and exhalations. So, your belly should expand fully on your inhale and your chest and shoulders should remain still, and when you exhale your belly will contract. 

Deeper, fuller “stomach breathing” is more beneficial for the entire body: It opens the blood vessels that are found deeper in the lungs to allow more space for oxygen to enter into the blood, and improves concentration and mental capacity. Stomach breathing can be learned and practiced through various breathing exercises.

Deep breathing exercises just might save your sanity too. The next time you feel angry, stressed or anxious, pay attention to your breathing. Chances are when negative emotions run high, your breaths become short and shallow (aka chest breathing). In fact, I would bet that many of us rarely more than a couple deep breaths during an entire day, even when we’re not feeling stressed (and when is that?). And if you’re not taking deep breaths, you could be missing out on one of the simplest ways to drastically improve your health.

These exercises can reverse your body’s natural reaction to stressful conditions, which will help you manage negative emotions and even physical pain more effectively. We can’t always eliminate stress from our lives, but we can learn to deal with it in a healthier way.

So, what exactly do deep breathing exercises do for you? When you learn to take deep, slow breaths, your body reacts in many positive ways:

#1 – Your muscles relax. You’ll find it’s difficult to maintain a lot of physical tension when you are breathing properly.

#2 – Oxygen delivery improves. When you breath deeply and you are relaxed, fresh oxygen pours into every cell in the body. This increases the functionality of every system in the body. You will also notice improved mental concentration and physical stamina.

# 3 – Your blood pressure lowers. As your muscles let go of tension, your blood vessels dilate and your blood pressure can return to a normal level.

#4 – Endorphins are released. Deep breathing triggers the release of endorphins, which improves feelings of well-being and provides pain-relief.

#5 – Detoxification improves. Good breathing habits help the lymphatic system function properly, which encourages the release of harmful toxins. This cleanses the body and allows it to direct its energy to more productive functions.

Deep breathing exercises are very easy to do if you take the time to do them properly. Here is a basic routine that will help you learn the ropes of deep breathing:

1. Lie down in a comfortable, quiet place. Allow yourself to be free from distractions for at least 5-10 minutes. (if you don't have time or the place to lie down...you can practice deep breathing wherever you are)

2. Give yourself a moment to start relaxing your muscles. Seek out places that are holding tension and release it.

3. Inhale deeply, filling your lungs with air. Bring the air into your abdomen, not just your chest. Count slowly to five as you inhale.

4. Exhale deeply, emptying your lungs completely. Again, count slowly to five as you exhale. As you exhale, release tension from your muscles.

5. Continue to inhale and exhale deeply for several minutes, counting slowly to five each time. Concentrate on your breathing and counting. Let your mind take a break from distractions.

Try and do this exercise (or something similar) at least once a day. It really makes a difference! I take a few deep breathes when I lie down in bed at night to relax my mind and body and tell my body that it's time for bed. 

TIPS FOR DEEP BREATHING EXERCISES:

– If you can’t find time to set aside just for deep breathing, then make a conscious effort to breath more deeply during everyday living, with a particular emphasis on exhaling completely, which is an important part of breathing properly.

– Place your hand on your abdomen to feel your way through the exercise. Your stomach should rise and fall noticeably while breathing.

– Some people find that white noise, relaxing music or the sound of rain is soothing and helps them relax for deep breathing exercises. Others find these distracting and prefer the quiet. Do some experimenting to find what helps you relax.

So, are you a belly breather or a chest breather?

Stay healthy and breath deep!

 

This week's email is sponsored by the following.**This email contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

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Carrie A Groff

Your Accountability Partner and 52 Healthy Habits Coach
carriegroff@gmail.com


P.S. Don't forget to share in our Facebook Group

P.S.S. Did you know that it actually takes an average of 66 days to form a habit (not the social media 21 days statistic) and some habits take even longer! There was a study done for 84 days and the quickest forming habit did only take 20 days, which was drinking a glass of water after getting up, but other habits like eating a piece of fruit with lunch took twice as long; and the habit of 50 sit-ups after morning coffee was a habit that one participant couldn't form even after 84 days. Walking for 10 minutes after breakfast turned into a habit for another participant after 50 days. 

Previous Healthy Habits:


Week 1: Drink Your Water!

Week 2: Half Your Plate=Veggies

Week 3: Move Your Body

Week 4: Sleep Deprivation

Week 5: Home-Cooked Meals

Week 6: Take Time for Yourself
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