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Feeling stressed out and restless? A simple change in your breathing might calm you down

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If your mind keeps racing, or your body feels restless, there's a simple trick: change your breathing. You will be surprised of the effects, especially if you do a breathing exercise every day. 

We all know what restlessness feels like. Your breathing moves from your belly to your ribs or higher, your breathing speeds up. You tell yourself to breathe slowly. Breathe in, keep it for three seconds, breathe out slowly. If this works for you, it feels good. But perhaps it doesn’t do the trick for you. Breathing therapy might be worth the try for you. 

Breathing is easy, right? 

We can do without food for about six weeks, we can do without water for a couple of days. But we can do without breathing for no more than a few minutes. We breathe about 12 times a minute and during a day, our lungs let in and out about 8000 litres of air. For most of us, breathing is an automatic process. And thankfully so: imagine we would have to think about every breath of air our lungs welcomed. 

However, in some situations, it’s useful to be aware of your breath. The beauty of breathing carefully, is that you can decide yourself what you want to do with it. 

Breathing therapy: how, what and why

If you’re experiencing stress for a long time, your body gets disturbed. The same goes for your breathing: continuous tension may lead to a less efficient way of breathing. It costs a lot of energy and may cause unpleasant stress. 

Breathing therapy teaches you how to use your belly-, side- and breast breathing. An important aspect of the therapy is learning to recognize, and handle stress signals of your body. It makes breathing therapy a useful thing for every person. 

Many people who use breathing therapy, struggle with anxiety, depression, burn out or sleeping problems. However, problems with physical causes such as chronic pain, voice problems, and back problems can be a good reason to visit a breathing therapist. 

The variety among these problems shows how functional a healthy, regulated breathing is in many aspects. Curious as to what focusing on your breathing may bring you? Try it and allow yourself a moment of peace with the following exercise. 

Catch your breath 

A nice set of lungs and a quiet place, that’s all you need for this simple but effective exercise. This exercise helps you to focus on your belly breath and, if you repeat it regularly, it allows you to relax during the day. 

Ready? Here it goes. 

Stand, sit down or lie down in a comfortable way (whichever you prefer, or whichever is possible in the space you’re in) and put both hands on your body. One at your chest, the other at your belly. Take a deep breath through your nose, hold your breath for a few seconds and breathe out through your mouth. Breathing in, you will feel your lungs expanding. Focus on nothing else but your body during ten minutes, while you keep breathing in and out. Do you feel it? The tension will decrease with every breath. 

If you really want the effect to last, make sure you do this exercise every day, for a couple of weeks. It will bring more peace and quiet in your mind, your body and, in the end, your whole life. 

Text: Eline Hoffman - Photo: Natalia Figueredo