The Dangers of Shallow Breathing
Breathing is literally one of the only things we don’t have to think about, it just happens.
And if we stop breathing? We need to get help, stat.
So what happens right in the middle, between the two extremes, the part where breathing still happens but it’s compromised?
You know what I’m talking about. Shallow breathing. It happens when we’re stressed out. Our shoulders rise up (I call them angry shoulders), our head gets filled up with our frightening To Do List, we worry about the credit card debt we haven’t paid, the washing we haven’t done and our energy becomes unbalanced and ungrounded. We are a generation of stress-heads. We have a huge tendency to think too much about what we don’t have or haven’t done yet, and our deep diaphragmatic breaths get shafted.
I know I know, it sounds boring as batshit. We’ve all got better and more important things to do with our time than sit and think about our breathing, but...
Deep Diaphragmatic Breathing
Think about this:
Deep diaphragmatic breathing activates our parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). This is the pathway that relaxes our body and our mind. When we’re in a wired state, our sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is charging away, pumping our body with adrenaline to ensure we’re engaged and ready for the oncoming ‘fight-or-flight’. It sounds great in theory, but we have become reliant on this hormone just to get us through the day and forgotten how to function in a balanced state between the PNS and SNS; our bodies are simply not designed to run full throttle on adrenaline. Over time, this ‘high-alert’ state can cause adrenal gland fatigue and exhaustion, which may take a year or longer to recover from.
Now that’s interesting.
Incredible Benefits of Conscious Breathing
Here are some other pretty incredible benefits of conscious breathing:
Digestion improves. Why? Proper digestion can only occur when we’re in a relaxed, parasympathetic state. If you’re suffering from bloating, indigestion and constipation, regular deep breathing could change your life.
Healthier immune system. Again, activating our parasympathetic nervous system is necessary for healing and regeneration in our body, boosting our immune response. Our circulation also improves and the increase in oxygen and blood flow helps to transport more nutrients to our organs and glands and remove toxins.
Less acidity. Deep breathing is said to lower acidity in the body and promote a more alkaline environment, probably due to a lowered stress response in the body.
Greater energy levels. It sounds so simple, but deep breathing brings more oxygen into the body and literally gives us more natural energy. Life depends on the breath!
Clearer mental state + less stress = more happiness! When we’re focused on our breathing, the mental clutter is gone. And when the mental clutter is gone, our thoughts change, our feelings change, our body physiology changes. Yep, down go the tight angry shoulders, the grinding jaw relaxes, our squinting forehead relaxes (yippee free anti-ageing) and we give ourselves space to make healthier and happier decisions. Over time and with regular dedication, this single practice of breathing and inner awareness has the ability to improve our relationships, not just with others but also with ourselves. We are calmer, less reactive, and we treat others and ourselves with care, kindness and respect. We are therefore less likely to eat poorly, less likely to grab quick sugary snacks, less likely to put on unnecessary body fat. And with less guilty eating, exercise can truly become an enjoyment rather than a chore. And body weight maintenance becomes easier and focused on healthy, happy living.
Natural weight loss. Yes I’ve written this in the point above. Got too excited.
Are you still fighting conscious breathing exercises??
Of course, for the greatest benefits, breathing needs to be consistent and more a meditation practise, of greater duration than a few deep breathes each day. The only reasons not to breathe and meditate are a lack of time and/or fear and embarrassment. Point one, time, we’ve all been there. But if you re-read the benefits above, perhaps a better question to ask yourself is, “Do I have time not to breathe?” Sickness is indeed, a huge waste of time and energy.
Embarrassment. There’s no need for this anymore. Meditation has become mainstream. It’s cool to breathe deep yo.
Imagine how great you’ll feel after only one month of conscious breathing.
Where to begin?
Start with just 3 DEEP BREATHS. That can be enough to change your state, alter your mood and your mindset. Inhale as deeply as you can through your nose, and exhale every last bit of air, feeling as though the breath is hitting the back of your throat on the release. Don’t be afraid to be noisy, the louder the better!
Breathing happens naturally, but the fact that we don’t have to think about breathing, I think, is just plain silly. We do need to think about it, we need to consciously breathe; our breath is where life starts and where health begins.