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Our most underestimated ability

hamster on the wheelYou would probably be surprised if I would start my article by asking you « to breath ». You would probably think that breathing is something you do anyway and doesn’t need to be enhanced. However, breathing is the most underestimated and forgotten ability we have.

By increasing our ability to breath, we could reduce our stress level and have a healthier life.Let us start from the beginning: we need to breath in order to live. In this sense, the respiration is not an ability but a necessity. We normally breathe “only” to survive and if we pay more attention to our breathing we may increase its benefits.

What are those benefits?

  • Breathing is something we can control, in contrary to situations, weather or people. How do we breathe – fast or long, into the belly or chest, deep or shallow – it is something we can decide;
  • Breathing has an effect on our stress reaction: it helps to calm us down and slow down our system, when it reacts to pressure;
  • Breathing allows us to perceive more of ourself – how do we feel, how much energy we have, etc.

Isn’t it great? Why are we paying so little attention to our ability to breathe?
Originally, holding our breath or reducing it, can be seen as an instinctive reaction to activate energy in order to fight or flight. Once the danger is gone, we let go and breathe deeply again.
Today, we live in a society where fight or flight are not the most adapted responses.
The dangers we are experiencing are to be rejected, not to be loved or not to be good enough. We may want to prove ourselves and we want to succeed.
Without paying attention we will face those situations by using our instinctive reactions: we will hold our breath. By doing it so many times in order to control ourselves, it becomes a habit.

The result is that our breathing ability is restricted and, as a consequence, it reduces what we feel. Feeling less brings us to perceiving less of our response to stress. We will not be aware of being stressed. And that leads us to focusing on trying to control the situation we are in, the weather, other people…

This is quite an energy consuming spiral, that leads us to the hamster on the wheel syndrome.
Let’s have a look at a simple exercise in 3 parts, that will help you to go out of the hamster’s wheel and reduce your level of stress.

  • First: just breathe with attention. Regain control of yourself by focusing on how you breathe.
  • Second: reduce your stress level. Inhale and exhale using the same amount of time: count in your head until 4 (or 5 or 6 or 7) when you inhale and the same when you exhale.
  • Third: by calming down your system you will connect more with yourself. Are you happy, content, satisfied? How high is your stress level? This allows you to become more aware of your actual state.

By practicing this simple exercise every day, you will become more conscious of your breathing and your level of stress.

Picture found in Internet.

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