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Not breathing properly can make you sick and tired. Here’s how.

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Not breathing properly can make you sick and tired. Here’s how.

Today, we’re talking about a thing you do 15000 times per day - even more if you’re stressed.

(No, it’s not peering inside the pantry or checking your teeth in the mirror.)

It’s breathing.

Right now, you might be switching off.

Breathing? Booooooo-ring.

But the very nature of breathing - basic, everyday, unconscious - is exactly the reason why it’s so important.

There’s no life without breath.

Not breathing correctly can make you sick, stressed and even fat.

Here’s an example.

Somewhere along the way you started chest breathing - taking short, shallow breaths from the upper part of your torso and chest, rather than deep, relaxed breaths using your diaphragm.

This changes how the muscles in your abdominal wall work, pulling on your rib cage and referring that tension up into your neck. Your posture changes, and those cramped airways now take in far less oxygen.

Oxygen is the very thing your cells need to make energy, so once you’re low in it, you’ll feel tired.

And what happens when you feel tired? You do all kinds of different things, like seek out sugar, caffeine, carbs, or go to bed rather than the gym.

I could go on. The knock-on effects of incorrect breathing are endless, and exist in a negative feedback loop. Improper breathing begets improper breathing and all the things mentioned above.

So! Perhaps proper breathing doesn’t seem so basic - and boring - after all.

The three main types of incorrect breathing we see are:

1. Hyperventilation

2. Anxious breath holding

3. Reverse breathing

All of these breathing patterns change up your bodily rhythms and flow, triggering a cascade of problems including digestive upset, weight gain, brain fog and fatigue - enough to make anyone grumpy.

A simple breathing test to check if you’re ‘doing it right’.

Lie on your back and place one hand on your belly and one on your chest. With each inhale, expansion should happen first in the belly, then ribs, then chest.

If your ribs don’t move or you lead with your chest, it’s likely your breathing technique is off.

Try this relaxing technique.

My favourite way to restore the breath - and relax before bed - is to put on some calm music, get comfy on the ground, and practice long belly breaths.

Take slow, deep breaths in for 3 - 6 seconds, then exhale for 3 - 6 seconds. Repeat. The counting also becomes a kind of meditation.

If you’re going through a period of stress, book-ending your day with two 10 - 20 minute breathing sessions will do wonders for your nervous system, and help counteract shallow stress-breathing.

Breathing is ever-present and relentless. It’s subtle, vital, and we take it for granted.

Practicing breathing can feel like a waste of time, but it’s actually the foundation of a long and healthy life. Set aside a little time each day just to breathe - deeply and restoratively. Your body with thank you, then breathe a sigh of relief.


To your Health

Michael Wilson


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