Mindful Deep Breathing

What is Mindful Deep Breathing?

Mindful deep breathing is a method used to help reduce anxiety, chronic pain, and insomnia, and is even utilized in cognitive behavioral therapy. Mindful deep breathing is a tool that can be used to help alleviate such unpleasant feelings like anxiety, sadness, and even anger.

By decreasing physiological arousal through mindful deep breathing, you can feel grounded, centered, and at peace. The goal of mindful deep breathing exercises is to intentionally focus on your breath by breathing from your diaphragm slowly, smoothly, and deeply at your own pace.

Deep breathing, also called diaphragmatic breathing, or belly breathing, consists of using your diaphragm to take in deep breaths of oxygen through your inhalation and then exhaling through the belly. As babies, we naturally breath through our diaphragms, but as adults we tend to engage in “chest breathing”, which does not take in the same quality amounts of oxygen. When we chest breath we breath faster, less compete breaths. This chest breathing can increase anxiety, dizziness, and feeling breathless. Deep breathing involves learning to slow down the breath and intentionally being aware of breathing deeply through your belly. These deep breaths are a tool to learn to incorporate into your de-stressing routine.

How is Mindful Breathing Beneficial?

Research shows that this deep, diaphragmatic breathing helps to decrease heart rate and blood pressure, reduce stress, alleviate symptoms of anxiety, and even manage chronic pain. Mindful deep breathing also has been shown to benefit the immune system and assist with concentration and attention. As mentioned before, deep mindful breathing can be a valuable tool to feel more centered, grounded, and at peace.

How to Engage in Mindful Deep Breathing

When practicing mindful deep breathing, if possible, lay down and put one hand on your belly and another slightly above, on your chest. You want your belly moving instead of your chest. First you want to focus your attention to your belly and as you inhale your belly should fill up with air and as you exhale your belly should shrink. Imagine your belly as a balloon filling up with air when you inhale and decreasing air as you exhale. It is important to breath slowly and smoothly at your own pace. Do not hold your breath. Rather, once you finish each exhalation you may notice a short pause. This is a beginner’s guide to engage in deep breathing.

Mindful breathing involves bringing your attention and focus to your breath. If at first you notice your mind wandering to other thoughts it is normal. Acknowledge the thoughts without judging them and then bring your attention back to your breath. This breathing exercise takes practice, so don’t get discouraged if at first it seems overwhelming to successfully do!

Once you grow more experienced with practicing this mindful breathing, it may be helpful to add a meditational component to deep breathing. For example, as you exhale you could think of the word “peace,” “calm,” or any other sensible word that you would like. Counting your breaths can also help. Some people may find it helpful to focus on their body sensations while breathing. Just like learning something new, experiment with different ways to find exactly what works best for you. Any new skill takes practice, so it can be helpful to practice this daily for a few minutes, or prior to engaging in stressful situations. You will be pleasantly surprised at how quickly this simple process of deep breathing can help you feel calm, at peace and grounded.

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Tina A Watson & Associates, LLC

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