Without even noticing it, we often live with chronic stress: it can come from work, relationships… but it can also come from the inside: a chronic disease can also you make you stressed! It may then lead to bad breathing habits, such as chronic hyperventilation. Consequently, the body gradually gets disrupted. We think we’re a bit nervous without really understanding why, we have trouble sleeping even when tired, etc.
Below are some tips for daily life, that can be done at home, during transportation, at work, everywhere! And safely. I took many ideas from the Buteyko method, but I want to point out that I didn’t attend any training whatsoever. I simply collected the various tips and exercises that I could find on the web, and sometimes added my own feelings.
For those who do not support my adventurous spirit, I invite you to register for Buteyko trainings and give me some feedback in the comments. For the others, let’s continue!
Take good habits
This article was initially composed of exercises, but eventually, it seemed to me that it was more important to insist on the foundations of a good breathing. Indeed, to be effective, the principles of the Buteyko method must be applied 24/7. So, I give below the guidelines that one must constantly keep in mind, unlike exercises that only require a dedicated moment practice.
Keep in mind the following key points of the Buteyko method:
- reduce the breathing speed
- reduce the depth of the breaths
- use the diaphragm and not the ribcage
- feel a slight feeling of air shortage
Habit 1: Breathe through the nose
If you breathe through the mouth , or if you have a doubt, start there. It’s really important. Breathing through the mouth can cause many dysfunctions or even diseases.
Habit 2: Breathe with the diaphragm
This one, generally, we know it but we forget to apply it. We believe we do it, while we don’t. Our body easily fools us. If you have any doubt, put a belt around your ribcage for a whole day: it shall force you into breathing with your stomach, even when you are not paying attention, and especially when feeling stressed! I even tried to sleep with the belt, and I didn’t experience any particular issue.
Habit 3: Relax
Same problem. We know we need to relax, but hey, we ain’t got no time for that! I can understand that you have better things to do, but if you want to get better, you have to go with a minimum of commitment! Let’s stop lying to ourselves and let’s (really) make room for it. Rest, meditate, practice breathing exercises… all day long! 10 minutes of relaxation in the evening will not fix up the many hours of stress of the day. Relaxing takes time, that’s a sure thing!
Habit 4: analyze your sleep
We just know too well the importance of sleep. Here are my tips: cover yourself only very slightly so that you feel almost cold. When the body is chill, it breathes more slowly! Reversely, a warm cover will cause a quick and therefore less effective breathing.
If you wake up with your heart pounding fast and with shortness of breath, take 20 minutes, even in the middle of the night, and calm down the mechanism. Breathe slowly, calmly, and recalibrate your heart and respiratory rhythms.
And as you probably already know, no screen light before going to bed! (phone included) It will disrupt your sleep.
Habit 5: Stay active (at your own level)
Laziness can soften us and make us even more tired. When you feel tired, it can be easy to seek some comfort and you may spare yourself too much (sofa, Netflix, computer, bed, telephone, junk food …). But also note that this isn’t true for everyone: for some cases with chronic diseases, the slightest exercise can be painful and even damaging. For some people, the exercise can be limited to a few stretches in bed. So, at your level, distinguish laziness from exhaustion and do what you can. In any case, keep your breath management in mind and breathe through your nose and with the diaphragm!
The key for adapted exercising (or even for household tasks) is how well you will be able to recover afterwards. If you feel knocked out the next day, it’s because you’ve tried too hard (even if it was only 5 minutes, maybe it was already too much).
Habit 6: general balance
Many factors affect your health and well-being, and therefore your breathing. You cannot try to improve your breathing if on the other side you cultivate some habits that worsen it. Be aware of all the side behaviors. Among others, we may find:
- bad postures (computer, sofa)
- heavy metal poisoning
- endocrine disruptors
What you might experience (when you change your breathing)
Breathing and body temperature are intimately linked together. When you breathe less, it is quite usual to feel the body is warming up, especially the hands and feet. You may even sometimes feel the dilatation of the vessels in the limbs.
It is also common to feel the nose unblock (if obstructed) when you breathe less.
When the use of the diaphragm changes, it is quite usual to feel new sensations in the belly, as if the stress was vanishing. It can even, in the medium term, have a positive effect on digestion.
Similarly, a calm breathing, and especially a nasal one, may increase the production of saliva and thus improves digestion.
You can also feel many other things that really change your life: heartbeats, stress reduction, different levels of energy, hunger, concentration, sleep… And I’m not just saying that because I have read it, but because I have felt it myself!
The biggest mistake is to believe that you breathe properly when you actually have it all wrong. Keep each of the points above in your mind and make sure you apply them!
Once you’ve started becoming aware of your own breathing, you will see many fascinating things happen. I had never noticed before that I breathe in when I drink water! I didn’t notice either how much my breathing changes when I eat, or with emotions, or during a change in temperature. I feel like I am rediscovering myself!
Breathing exercises will eventually arrive in the next article, but I really felt like they would have been useless without some good breathing foundations.
Edit – here are the breahting exercises.
What do you think? Was it all obvious to you, or do you have a lot to work on? Leave me a message in the comments!