This is very basic stuff, but it’s worth stating: Breathing is important to your health.
Of course, everyone needs oxygen – and CO2 – to survive. But it is also important to breathe correctly to make sure you’re getting the proper balance of both. Taking shallow breaths, unconsciously holding your breath or breathing rapidly can impact the brain, the nerves, your organs and alkaline levels and the way you can function.
It is usually stress that creates abnormal breathing patterns. Most of the time, we are unaware that our breathing isn’t normal. Think of when you are watching a suspenseful movie. When the hero safely maneuvers out of the situation we give a big exhale, completely unaware that we were even holding our breath. This sort of situation can also happen in the healthcare environment, a place that can be filled with stressful situations of all sorts.
There are several different ways to address breathing properly, but first you must recognize if or when you have an issue. You may need to practice a breathing technique if you find yourself:
- yawning frequently, even when you got sufficient sleep
- feeling lightheaded
- sighing often
- unable to “catch” your breath.
These symptoms can all indicate that you are not breathing regularly or properly. If this is the case, look at what you are doing at the time this happens. Then practice a breathing technique that works for you to get you back on track. Here are some types of breathing techniques that may help you.
Breathing deeply, with belly expansion and long exhales can fill the body with oxygen, release CO2 and coax the muscles to relax. This is the sort of breathing practiced during yoga. This is not to say you need to assume the downward-dog pose in a patient’s room to get your breathing back on track! Take a moment before entering the exam room or patient’s room. Take a few deep, cleansing breaths to settle your body and mind before entering.
After practicing this for a number of days, it will start to become part of your routine to give you focus and relax your body. The website Care2 Healthy Living offers tips on why deep breathing is important.
This type of breathing technique helps when you are anxious, resulting in irregular breathing. It is the type of breathing recommended for meditation. Square breathing means breathing in for a certain count, holding your breath for that same count, exhaling for the same and holding again for the same count.
Do whatever number works for you – a three or four count usually does the trick. Here is how it would look: Inhale for a count of three, hold for a count of three, exhale for a count of three and pause before inhaling for a count of three. This slows the breathing down to a mechanical routine to prevent the quick inhale or partial exhale.
This is often used in yoga and Pilates practices; breathe in through the nose an exhale out through the mouth. As you do this, focus on relaxing a certain part of your body with each exhale – for instance, your face, neck, chest, shoulders, back, hips, legs, ankles, feet, arms and hands. That’s 11 inhales and exhales.
The American Lung Association also offers tips on how to make better use of each breath … for your lung’s sake. Find whatever technique works best for you and practice it. Your body and your mind will all benefit from this practice.
Now, take a deep breath and share this article with someone you care about!