Before diving into this post, I’d like you to take two deep breaths. Count to five as you
inhale, then exhale slowly. That’s it. Two breaths. Ready, go. Inhale – one, two, three, four, five. And exhale… One more time, inhale – one, two, three, four, five. And exhale…
Welcome back to the Power Series for My Amelia James, where women are empowered to live a life by design! Today we experience the Power of Breath.
I have worked in a clinic with doctors, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners. On a regular basis, I would get referrals of patients who went to the emergency room because they thought they were having a heart attack. When tests on their heart checked out, they were sent to me for treatment of panic symptoms. I have also worked with many others complaining of stress and anxiety. After listening to their unique stories to get an understanding of what brought them into my office, we would work on breathing techniques.
I start by asking them to take two deep breaths, just like I did at the beginning of this post. Here is what happens more often than not. Many of you probably did the same thing. The patient takes long, slow breaths and their chest and shoulders rise. That is a very natural way to breathe but if you take it a step further, you can really maximize relaxation.
Now place one hand on your belly and the other hand on your chest. Take two more long, slow breaths but this time try to keep the hand on your chest still. You want your hand on your stomach to move in and out with your breath. Imagine breathing air past your chest/lungs and filling your belly like a balloon.
Ready? Breathe in and expand your belly – one, two, three, four, five. Now exhale slowly… One more time, breath in and make that belly huge – one, two, three, four, five. And exhale…
That’s it! You have just learned a new way to breathe. I like to call it “belly breathing.” Others call it “diaphragmatic breathing.” Keep practicing this new way of breathing. Using your hands on your chest and stomach is helpful as you master belly breathing but you won’t always have use them (especially if you use the technique in public). Also, you do not have to have a panic or anxiety disorder to benefit from belly breathing. Any time you feel stressed, overwhelmed, distracted, irritated, or even just “blah” (that’s a medical term), take two to three deep belly breaths.
Call to Action:
Practice, practice, practice. Just like any other skill, practice makes perfect. You do not have to set aside 30 minutes a day to practice your breathing. But you can take 2-3 deep, belly breaths 2-3 times per day!
You’ve got this!
(For those of you interested in more of a technical explanation of the benefits of belly breathing, a quick internet search of “diaphragmatic breathing” will result in an abundance of information.)
Dr. Dan is a licensed psychologist, your biggest cheerleader, and the go-to positivity force behind My Amelia James.