Life can be pretty hectic for many of us. And I, therefore, want to remind you of the value of breathing and how it can, just in a few minutes, help reset our nervous systems. And best of all it’s free! So remember to breathe – take a slow, deep, conscious breath, gently breathing in – and slowly breathing fully out.
Diaphragmatic breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system. This is the nervous system that brings us back to our rest, digest and healing state. The diaphragm is a big dome-shaped muscle that sits underneath the lungs and separates your chest from your abdomen. When you inhale, the diaphragm moves downward, causing your belly to expand and create more space for your lungs to fill up completely with air. When you exhale, the diaphragm moves upward, driving air out of your lungs while your belly flattens.
Deep, diaphragmatic breathing has shown so many benefits. It helps to relieve anxiety and depression, soothes the nervous system, relaxes our muscles and helps improve our cognitive performance. Relaxing breathing can also lower heartbeat and stabilise blood pressure.
So start breathing! Below are some steps you can take to practice diaphragmatic breathing:
- Sit or lie comfortably and close your eyes. Appreciate the solid support of the chair, floor or bed.
- Place one hand on your chest and one hand on your belly
- Breathe slowly in while counting to 4 and focus on taking that breath to your belly so that the hand on your belly lifts and the hand on your chest remains still. Relax your shoulders while doing this.
- Breathe slowly out, count to 5 and feel your belly drawn back in.
- Do this for a few breaths, enjoy the moment of stillness and cherish the feeling of grounding it gives you.
Make this a routine so that you can practice this valuable way of resetting your nervous system. The more you practice it, the easier it will become and the more you will find the value in it.