Updated: Mar 1
You may have heard the term "mindful breathing", but what is it? Mindful breathing is a way to anchor yourself in the present moment. It allows you to be aware of your mind and body and to acknowledge your thoughts without judgement. It has many benefits that have been scientifically proven. These benefits include:
Reducing anxiety: Mindfulness activates your body's "rest and digest system" otherwise known as the parasympathetic nervous system. Activation of the parasympathetic nervous system will help lower your blood pressure and heart rate, which will help reduce anxiety.
Helps reduce burnout: Many of us experience burnout from job stress, family issues, and many other things that we experience in our lives. Mindful breathing can help reduce emotional exhaustion, anxiety, and burnout. It's kind of like "resetting" your mind and body when you take the time to do it.
Provides relief from pain: Scientific research has found that mindful breathing can be effective introducing the level of pain intensity. It may be an alternative to chronic pain conditions like migraines, fibromyalgia, and back pain.
Decreases negative thinking: Practicing mindful breathing can help to decrease negative repetitive thoughts that may be experienced by people with depression, which can help improve mood.
Some helpful tips to follow when practicing mindful breathing include:
Get comfortable: Either seated or lying down - make sure your are in a position where you cat relax and where your breathing won's feel constricted.
Use a guided recording or do it yourself: You can find many resources for guided recordings on apps like Calm, or you can practice mindful breathing on your own, just focus on letting yourself relax.
Start noticing your breath: As you start breathing in and out, notice how each inhale feels...is it short or long? Deep or shallow? Notice the pause at the top of the breath before you exhale, notice the pause before the next inhale and continue to draw your focus to your breath.
Notice your body: Begin t notice the physical sensations associated with your breathing. Where do you feel the breath the most? Do you feel the inhales more in your chest or deeper in your belly? What does it feel like as you breathe in through your nostrils?
Reserve judgement: It is common for your mind to wander while practicing mindful
breathing. Acknowledge the fact that your mind has wandered, don't judge it, and then return to the breath and the sensations associated with it. Once you have finished your mindful breathing, notice how you feel. Does your body feel different? Do you feel more relaxed? Try to notice but not judge - remember there is no right or wrong.
Try this mindful breathing exercise from YouTube: