What to do when you don’t know what to do: Take a deep Breath

How many times have you heard a calming voice say, “take a deep breath” or perhaps you have thought, “let me just catch my breath”? Breathing is the most natural action that we do and it occurs over 20, 000 times a day and more if you are exercising. The function of breathing supplies our organs, brains and muscles with oxygen which is a vital fuel for life. As we exhale, we rid the body of carbon dioxide and other pollutants. By keeping our lungs healthy, we produce normal mucus that cleans and lubricates our tiny airways. They look like upside down broccoli plants that work like bellows. 

Healthy lungs like…

  1. A smoke-free environment both indoors and outdoors
  2. Regular vaccines to protect them like the flu and pneumonia
  3. A chance to exercise and burn off some carbon dioxide
  4. An anti-oxidant diet to help rebuild cells and cilia (the little hairs that clean tiny air pouches)
  5. Lots of practice – choir rehearsal, shower singer, deep belly laughs and great big sighs.  

True Story:

Tamara is 34 years old; she was diagnosed with asthma in her teens and always avoided exercise because of it. She is prone to stress, neck tension and has a sedentary job. She was hesitant to start a walking program due to feeling short of breath with just stair climbing. She agreed to start with breathing exercises. She practiced a few times a day and started to feel less anxiety, more energy and clearer thinking. Walking became easier, stairs were no longer a problem. She kept breathing. She also became a Zumba instructor. 

Breathing Exercises for Healthy Lungs

  • Pursed lip exhalations to draw air out, then big deep breath in. Repeat three times.
  • Progressive deep breaths. Think of an elevator going up and down. Breathe in to Floor 1, exhale to lobby, Floor 3, Floor 5, Floor 7, Penthouse
  • Breath holding. Deep breath in and hold..1.., 2.., 3…, 4,… 5, ..and exhale
  • Find the Pause. Breath in, blow out and find the pause between breaths and relax. Breathe in and repeat 3 x
  • Visualize as you breath. Breathe in with the image of a circle expanding, blow out as the circle contracts 
Photo by Elijah Hiett on Unsplash

Insight: We are hearing about Covid19 constantly, about breathing difficulties, about respirators and we feel vulnerable and anxious. Our number one defence is to prepare the battle field to be invincible and breathing exercises are the cornerstone. They will clean your lungs, expand capacity, reduce blood pressure and give you an oxygen “high”. Breathe on, my friends. 

Resources:

Healthline has some nice step by step instruction on breathing exercises and their benefits

Try this breathing bubble visualization

Cover Photo by Kenny Luo on Unsplash

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