How often do you have a column due, and the closer you get to the deadline, the more stupid you become? You might start feeling lethargic, can’t concentrate, and possibly even get an upset stomach. Perhaps you even get a headache or become cranky.

Believe it or not, those symptoms might be caused by improper breathing. Yep. Breathing. Remember how your Mom always told you to breathe when you got upset? Turns out, she was on to something.

At 22,000 breaths a day, breathing is one of the most automatic things we do. And, a lot of us (myself included) are really BAD at it—10% of Americans suffer from chronic hyperventilation. Then, when we are put in a stressful situationa deadline, bad day at work, fight with a significant otherthe symptoms become more pronounced.

Fortunately, breathing, like most things in life, is a trainable skill. Here is a great drill to improve breathing habits and/or calm yourself down.

Hi/Lo Breathing

1) Sit comfortablyhold a nice, tall posture as you do this

2) Place one hand, palm down, on your upper chest

3) Place your other hand, also palm down, on your abdomen

4) Breathe. If you are breathing correctly:

a. Lower hand moves first

b. Lower hand moves significantly more than your upper hand

c. Upper hand moves outward slightly, NOT up towards the shoulders

If you are breathing correctly, CONGRATULATIONS! You can just use this drill as a calming exercise. By stopping to breathe correctly during a stressful time, you will calm yourself down and eliminate your anxiety.

If you are NOT breathing correctly, you need practice this drill. Visualize filling up your lungs, starting at the bottom, so your hands move as identified above. Initially, you may only be able to do this for a couple of repetitions, but I’d like you to work up to 30 – 40 reps, twice a day. By owning this valuable skill, you will reduce overall anxiety levels and eliminate a host of other low-grade symptoms.

Next month I’ll talk about keeping your eyes from being tired from too much computer time. In the meantime, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me!

Jennifer Waak is a Seattle-based fitness enthusiast, certified Kettlebell instructor (RKC), and Z-Health practitioner (R, I, S, T-Phase and 9S certified).

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4 Comments

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  1. Arlene Leder 12 years ago

    Hi Jen,
    Loved your column! I think it is a great addition to Write On! Online. Looking forward to the next one.
    Arlene

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