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Importance of proper breathing for your wellbeing

proper breathingWe already know that breathing is vital for life but since breathing takes place automatically, we rarely think about it. This is one of the main causes of fibromyalgia and other chronic pain conditions – people do not breathe properly and suffer from a myriad of health problems.

People in pain tend to hold their breath for a while without even realizing it and when they begin breathing again, their breaths are often shallow and disordered. Although some research claims that this may be an unconscious reaction to pain which could also be protective, it can enhance your perception of pain and aggravate symptoms of fibromyalgia.

Why is proper breathing important?

Have you ever noticed how relaxed you feel after taking a deep breath? The next time you feel stressed, try taking a deep breath, and concentrate on how well you feel. Try thinking about how well you breathe after waking up and before going to sleep. While breathing is automatic and effortless, it is important to breathe properly to reap its benefits.

When you breathe deeply, the brain receives signals to relax and calm down and the brain sends this message to your body. This works because when you are stressed, you initiate the “fight or flight” response in your body, causing increased heart rate, high blood pressure, fast and shallow breathing etc. When you breathe properly and deeply, you instantly eliminate these symptoms. Breathing also decreases mental fog and helps you concentrate while you work.

Breathing is a natural pain killer

Breathing causes the release of endorphins in the body. As you may already know, endorphins are feel-good chemicals that allow negative feelings such as anger, tension, fear and anxiety to subside. When you practice deep breathing, the upward and downward movement of your diaphragm helps flush out toxins from vital organs, enhancing blood flow.

Effects of breathing on the body

Sometimes improper breathing may cause some problems. The way you breathe affects each part of your body and if not done correctly, it may have a negative impact on your circulatory, immune, nervous and endocrine system. Some symptoms of improper breathing may include:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Mental fog
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Digestive problems
  • Chest pain
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Numbness

However, breathing properly can have numerous positive effects on the body, including:

  • Increased amount of energy
  • Elimination of toxins from the body
  • Increased immune system function – lower risk of infections and diseases
  • Improved bowel function
  • Lowered risk of hypertension
  • Reduction in stress, anxiety and depression
  • Allows you to relax and work better
  • Improved sleep
  • Improved digestive function

How to breathe properly

To breathe properly, follow these steps:

  1. Lie down on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. This exercise can be done standing or seated, but it is much easier to do while lying down.
  2. Place your hands on your abdomen and breathe in through your nose.
  3. When you breathe in check if your chest rises or your abdomen. The correct way of breathing would involve an abdominal rise while the chest remains flat. Breathe in and allow your belly to inflate with the air you are breathing so that your hands rise in the process.
  4. Hold your breath for just a few seconds and exhale slowly from your mouth so that your belly goes down as you do so.

Practice this technique for at least 5 minutes at a time. You can try it two to three times per day. Try breathing consciously until you are able to breathe properly and effortlessly.

 

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