Who hasn’t heard of the power of deep breathing?
“But how,” you ask, “can something so simple influence my shape and size?”
I hear you!
It can seem like breathing as a way to calm emotional eating is a bit ‘low tech’.
I get that.
The good news is that it works.
Because nothing communicates to every fibre of your body more eloquently than your breath, that you’re safe.
Shallow breathing—think about when you’re stressed, anxious or overwhelmed—sends an immediate message to our body: alert alert danger!!!
OK, not sabre-tooth tiger life or death physical stress as in caveman days.
But in modern days, rushing, hurrying and being super busy has become ‘normalised’. We’ve got presentations to make, kids to collect, meals to cook, quick, quick, quick—so there’s a lot of psychological stress.
Why’s this important?
Your body doesn’t distinguish between the ‘types’ of stress.
It responds in exactly the same way to both types of stress by flooding our body with stress hormones—adrenaline and cortisol.
And, here’s the thing. An elevation of either of these hormones in our body causes emotional eating.
Interesting, isn’t it?
So I hear you—breathing can sound a bit low tech.
But, given we breathe up to 30,000 times per day, can you see the enormous potential to influence your body—positively or negatively?
Do you breathe optimally?
Most women breathe while holding their stomachs in—to make them look flat and firm—which means they’re breathing only from the upper part of their lungs.
To breathe optimally, we need to be breathing from that space behind our tummy button—our diaphragm.
The easiest way to determine if you breathe correctly (or not) is to stand in front of a mirror and take a deep breath.
If your stomach was the only thing that moved, then you’re one of the rare individuals to retain correct breathing past childhood.
If your shoulders introduced themselves to your ears—most people do (!!!) you’ll benefit by changing where you breathe from which’ll reduce the stress hormones in your body.
How to breathe yourself calm
1. Put your hand on your tummy and, as you inhale, make your tummy push your hand out. Your chest and shoulders stay still.
2. Count to seven as you inhale, and nine as you exhale.
Research suggests a longer exhalation than inhalation has an even stronger calming effect. Also, focusing on the uneven counting takes a little mindfulness which brings you back to you.
3. Repeat 10 times.
Notice how you can actually feel the relaxation response switch on. Notice the stress hormones leaving your body.
Is it natural to be perpetually serene every second of the day?
Nope. You’re human.
That’s part of the process. Just keep remembering to remember to breathe deeply.
And next time you feel yourself stressing—hello, Christmas is just around the corner!!!—take the time for 10 slow, deep, calming breaths.
You can always tense up again after your 10th. But you probably won’t : )
Love etc, Avril