You know when you’re in an airplane and the flight attendant tells you to “put your own mask on before helping others”? That concept is true in many situations. You have to take care of yourself or you’ll have nothing to give to anyone else. Your productivity, health, and attitude all benefit from you taking time for yourself to reduce stress. An easy first step is to learn how to breathe, correctly. Most of us take rapid, shallow breaths. Shoulders go up, diaphragm goes in, and only the top portion of our lungs fill. Proper breathing expands your diaphragm, stomach, and ribcage – but not the pectoral area. Exhaling deeply is equally important so that you can better oxygenate your body and empty as much carbon dioxide and toxins as possible with each breath. Got a baby or a dog around? Watch them while they sleep. Higher oxygen levels in the blood increases function and health of the organs. It also improves mental clarity, mood, and stamina. More toxins are released through the lungs than through any other avenue of elimination.
Practice breathing deliberately several times each day. For several minutes, slowly breathe in through your nose, filling your lungs entirely with air and expanding your belly. Try for four breaths per minute – quality trumps quantity. Exhale slowly and deeply through your nose, pulling your belly in. Then, continue, but exhale through your mouth for several more minutes. Use this kind of breathing when you feel stressed, when you’re exercising, when you’re trying to go to sleep, or when you’re trying not to lose your temper.
Why not decide to try some of these tips for three weeks to see if you notice a difference? The power of intent is a strong one. If you choose to develop some good habits, you will begin to feel better. Who knows – if this works you may go crazy and start going for a walk everyday too! Next thing you know, you’ll be in a positive cycle instead of a negative one.