Mindful breathing is a conscious exercise; one in which we purposefully carve out some time (even 5 minutes) to pay attention to our breathing. The basics include:
- Pick a quiet location, free of distraction.
- Close your eyes and turn your attention inward to your breathing.
- Slow your breaths; inhale through the nose, expanding your belly. Exhale slowly.
- If your attention shifts from breathing, that is okay. Gently encourage it back to the simple act of breathing – in and out.
The benefits of mindful breathing include:
- It inhibits anxiety, decreasing stress and worry.
- It distracts us from the things we can’t control and reminds us that we are capable of facing challenges.
- It helps to still ruminating thoughts.
- It slows the heart rate, decreasing pain and the body’s stress response.
- It helps us to recognize calm.
- It helps us to feel more centered and increases our self-control.
- It inhibits anger; allowing our rational brain some space.
- It helps the brain to focus.
When we practice mindful breathing on a daily basis – this can become a lovely anchor activity – we are proactively working with our comfort system to feel grounded and secure. In order to get started, it may help to listen to a guided mindful breathing exercise (there are countless examples on Youtube!)
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