It’s the second part of our series on Baby Steps. Last week, we talked about how to get better sleep. This time, we’re taking baby steps towards better mental health, or more specifically, better nervous system regulation. This one really is a baby step, too: we’re not going to be doing transcendental meditation, chanting, tapping – nothing like that. And that doesn’t mean to say there is anything wrong with those strategies. Today’s baby step is simply about becoming aware of your breath.
Being Aware of your breath
I suffer from asthma, and have done so for about 10 years. Something that has helped to improve my lung health is becoming aware of how I am breathing. Now, I’m not saying you need to sit there for 40 minutes, feeling your breath. It’s about being aware of when your breathing is shallow or short. I’ve found this to be particularly useful, as I often find myself doing this – or holding my breath completely! Which of course, isn’t going to be great for my asthma symptoms.
Shallow breathing isn’t particularly good for us. Ideally, we want to be taking deep, restorative breaths to get oxygen into the body, and carbon dioxide out. So my challenge for you this week is to take a baby step towards better nervous system regulation. Become aware of your breath and when you might be short-breathing, and then rectify this by taking a big gulp of air. Afterwards, let that go, and try to take more of those deeper breaths.
And that’s the first step towards breathwork that you can deploy anytime to improve your mental health. For example, when you’re feeling anxious or stressed, or as a preventative measure, become aware of your breath, and take deep restorative breaths. Trust me, you will feel better for it.
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