The simple act of breathing is full of surprises. For instance, did you know that:
- The average Canadian guy inhales enough air in his lifetime to fill more than 50 Goodyear blimps.
- The world record for hiccupping is 68 straight years. (That’s an estimated 430 million hiccups. Get that poor guy a glass of water already!)
Here’s another interesting, and very useful fact about breathing: doing it deeply, even for only a few seconds, is one of the most effective stress busters out there.
Here’s how it’s done
Because we rarely think about breathing, the first step is to stop whatever you’re doing and focus on your regular breaths. Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose, breathing in just below your rib cage and filling your lungs as deeply as possible.
Do this once and you’ll feel better. Do it a few more times whenever stress takes hold, and those unpleasant feelings will fade away in less time than it takes to reel off three measly hiccups.
Try some deep breathing right now and you’ll see what we mean!
The benefits of banishing stress
As well as making us feel tense in rush-hour traffic or during a busy workday, stress can take a long-term toll on your health and well-being. Reducing it, however, can lower your blood pressure, improve your quality and quantity of sleep, and even help curb nicotine cravings—the list of benefits just keeps going (not for 68 years, but you get the idea… ).
Clear your mind, get settled and feel more relaxed than ever by taking a big deep breath. How awesome and unboring is that?
Picture this: You have an early meeting at work. The commute is worse than usual, cars are bumper to bumper, nobody’s using their turn signals and you finally arrive 30 minutes late only to discover that the coffeemaker – and coffee tin – are both empty.
a) Pull a Frank Costanza and scream “Serenity now!
b) Burst into the boardroom and angrily demand an explanation
c) Bottle up your emotions and seethe quietly all day.
d) Take a few deep breaths.
Option “d” has more going for it than workplace popularity and job security. Deep breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing because it means contracting the large muscle between your chest and belly, can produce an amazing range of health benefits.
Exhale your way through any situation:
If simply reading the word “commute” makes you feel tense, why not try some deep breathing right now: Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose — your belly, not your chest, should rise — and then do the same when you exhale. Do this once and you’ll feel better. Do it a few more times and stress and tension will melt away like snow on a heated driveway.
This isn’t snow, however, it’s physiology. We humans are aware of our emotions, and we can use deep breathing to relax in stressful situations. Ever see your dog or cat lounging in a state of pure bliss? They’ve done some deep breathing.
Breathing tips to conquer your day with ease:
Lower blood pressure.
Better sleep: The relaxation that comes from deep breathing, combined with other strategies, can help you get the Zs you need.
Butt out: Relaxation routines that include deep breathing have been shown to curb cigarette cravings.
So go ahead and try taking anywhere from 3-5 deep breaths, own that morning meeting…and keep an emergency coffee stash in your desk!
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