Breathe to Your Benefit

By: Molly Mackenzie // @mmack12

We all have days that are simply not our days. Whether we can pinpoint where they're going wrong, or if we just feel "off", some days just aren't all sunshine and rainbows.

But what if I told you that you had a secret superpower to help make the bad days a bit better? What if I told you it's been there all along, since you were a baby, helping you get through life and you simply didn't realize it's ability?

That's what your breath is. Breathing is pretty cool if you think about it - it can be both voluntary and involuntary. There's not many things in life that you can simply forget about and they'll still happen, but breath is one of those miraculous things. On top of that, if you do think about it, you can control the depth and the pace, which means you're essentially controlling the rhythm of your body.  

So how do you activate your superpower? Deep breathing. Deep breathing allows you to increase oxygen to your organs, helping them to do their job better, and has also been shown to decrease your stress and anxiety levels! On those days when nothing is going right, it can help to restore your mind and body to a more relaxed state.

So why not harness that power we have over our breath to make our lives a little better?! We can and we will! It's simple - you've been doing it all your life.

Step 1: continue to be however you are - sitting, laying down - you do you!

Step 2: breathe in slowly through your nose (ideally a count of 3-5), allowing your belly to expand (like you've just eaten a huge meal and have a food baby)

Step 3: after a short pause at the top of your breath, start to breathe out slowly (again, try for a 3-5 count - ideally a bit longer than your inhale). breathe out until you can't anymore!

Step 4: you did it! just keep cycling through the steps as long as you'd like to - a few minutes would be ideal, but you'll begin to feel the benefits after just a few breaths.

I personally love to do this simple exercise when I feel my brain getting ahead of the situation at hand - it really allows me to come back to the present moment and to stop stressing about the "what if" of the future. Sitting with your breath is a simple way to realize that despite what may be happening in the day, you are capable of handling what life hands you - and that you are worthy of the benefits that comes with it. You deserve to take a few minutes to breathe. 

if you want to know more about the benefits or different techniques, check out these articles below!

http://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/relaxation-techniques-breath-control-helps-quell-errant-stress-response

http://www.chopra.com/articles/breathing-for-life-the-mind-body-healing-benefits-of-pranayama