As little as 90 seconds of diaphragmatic breathing will “reset” your body; similar to “rebooting” your computer.
Did you know that lungs are not actually muscles?Without help, they cannot move air in and out of the body.The muscle naturally intended for expanding the lungs is the diaphragm.Practicing relaxed, diaphragmatic breathing is refreshing, restful, and creates a sense of well-being. It calms the nervous system, helps prevent psychosomatic disturbances including anxiety and panic attacks, and centers attention.Because we are always breathing, diaphragmatic breathing is a self-management tool that is useful even during the busiest times of the day.
We are born knowing how to take deep, refreshing breaths. As we get older, we get out of the habit.The stresses of day to day life and the practice of “sucking in” the stomach leads us to gradually shift to shallower, less satisfying “chest breathing”.
Diaphragmatic breathing encourages full oxygen exchange – that is, the beneficial trade of incoming oxygen for outgoing carbon dioxide.When using the diaphragm to breath, you will see the stomach rise slightly as the air contracts (breathe in) and compresses the abdominal space.As you breathe out, the chest and the stomach fall.This is what you would see if you were to look at a baby breathing.A baby hasn’t yet been told to hold the stomach in.
With the diaphragmatic breathing you have a tool to maintain your sense of clam in situations where you used to become stressed and anxious.It is a healthy way of breathing and is a first step to manage anxiety or panic symptoms.Here is how you do it.
• Sit in a comfortable, upright position looking straight ahead. Breathe with the diaphragm, allowing the ribs to slightly flare out to the sides, while the shoulders, upper chest and abdomen remain motionless. (Imagine you are blowing up a balloon in your stomach.)
• Put one hand on your upper chest and the other over your navel.Your objective is to have the lower hand rise first when you breathe in.Breathe smoothly and slowly.
• Breathe at a comfortable depth; deeply, not shallow, but also not exaggerating the depth.
• Allow the breath to flow continuously.
• Breathe evenly, so that exhalation and inhalation are of the same duration. Once that is comfortable, allow the exhalation to be twice as long as the inhalation.
• Continue doing this for 90 seconds (approximately 6 -10 breaths).Repeat several times a day.
Using this technique, you consciously and deliberately slow your breathing.The goal is to produce the body’s natural relaxation response, characterized by slower breathing, lower blood pressure, and a feeling of increased well-being.
Spend as little as 90 seconds several times a day to benefit from the results.If you have severe or long-lasting symptoms of any kind, such as depression or anxiety, seek medical and/or psychological care from a qualified health care provider.