We all know how to breathe to stay alive. Easy – I bet you could do it with your eyes closed and your hands behind your back. However, when we take control of our breathing, there is a whole new world of possibilities to unlock, especially when it comes to anxiety and depression.
If we think about it on a practical level, when we are breathing right into the base of our lungs you will have higher amounts of oxygen in the blood. Our forever observant brain interprets this as you being in a safe environment as you have time to breathe properly. It thinks, “I can let my guard down, I’ll shift into rest and digest mode.” When you use your upper ribs during short shallow breathing, the brain detects a reduction in oxygenation and the need for short breaths as you being in a stressful environment. To keep your system on its toes in preparation for any further threat, the brain shifts the nervous system into fight or flight mode.
By bringing our attention to, being mindful, of our breath, we can change our physiology, mood and thoughts in just a few moments. The art of mindful breathing is a good tool to have up your sleeve for times you can feels the tears brewing, the stress mounting, the rage building and so on. There are many powerful different methods of mindful breathing.
Let's get started with our favourite – Deep Belly Box Breathing. Here's how:
1. While you count to four, take a deep breath in through your nose, right into your belly. Let it fill up like a balloon.
2. Hold that breath for 1, 2, 3, 4.
3. Slowly breathe out for a count of four.
4. Hold again for 1, 2, 3, 4.
Repeat steps 1 - 4 as many times as you need to in order to feel your mind and your body relaxing.