I remember standing in front of a group of managers and being asked to demonstrate what I meant by “breathing well.”
I have to admit at first I thought they were pulling my leg but no this was a serious request. I realized they must be thinking, “Surely you just breathe in and breathe out what more is there?”
I firmly believe breathing well is the foundation of everything we achieve in life. So firmly do I believe that I found myself inhaling and exhaling noisily in front of this group of managers, just to show them what I meant. Soon the room was filled with those sounds as the managers joined in.
It ended up being a great light-hearted exercise which we all enjoyed.
I can’t easily demonstrate good breathing for you in a blog post, but let’s start with the basics. What is “breathing well”?
Can you really be bad at breathing?
How you breathe is a reflection on how you’re living at that moment and how you are engaging in life.
So how are you breathing?
- Deeply and meaningfully?
- Shallow, almost an excuse for breathing?
- Somewhere in-between?
When we are stressed or nervous our breathing reflect this and it becomes quicker and, rather than inhaling deeply and filling our lungs fully (letting life know we have a right to be here), it’s shallow and panicked (asking life, do I deserve to be here?).
Sometimes when we’re nervous we can almost forget to breathe, catching our breath only when we remember and then gulping our way back to the reality of the present moment.
Being aware of your breath means you are rooted in the present moment. Your thoughts don’t stray. And when you are focused in the present moment like this even your worries are dissolved. There are no downsides to learning how to breathe well.
It sustains you in life.
How to breathe well
This is what we already know:
- Make sure your shoulders are in a good position, roll them back and let then drop them
- Breathe in through your nose
- Breathe out through your mouth
Ok so there’s nothing new here so let’s add on the next layer!
As you breathe in through your nose you are taking air deep into your lungs. Take five seconds to do this. And when you breathe out through your mouth you’re going to take the same length of time, that’s 5 seconds.
But here’s the really important step – you need to stop for a few seconds between your in and your out breath.
If you’re good at picturing things, you can visualise all your stress and all your anxiety transferring during this time. So that when you breathe out you’re letting go of the bad stuff and on the in breath you are breathing in fresh stress-free air.
Need an anxiety rescue? Or do you need a great day ahead of you?
Learning to breathe in this mindful way will immediately create a distance between you and any problem you might be facing. Just a few minutes a day of breathing in this way will allow you to return to what you were doing more refreshed and less anxious.
Try this as a rescue remedy next time you feel stressed or overwhelmed for an immediate solution. As you see it working for yourself, consider building it into the preparations for a great day ahead. It’s what I do for myself.
And if you like the idea of taking just a few moments at a time out of your busy day to refocus and revitalise, join me and others for a 5 minute break in our hammocks on this link.