Just breathe. Usually, I hear someone saying this when they think I'm getting angry. But breathing deeply can do a lot more for you than make space for your body to react to anger. And sometimes, we have no idea we've forgotten how to breathe. #breathe #painmanagement #selfcare #selfcarehacks #insomnia #stress

Just breathe. Usually, I hear someone saying this when they think I’m getting angry. But breathing deeply can do a lot more for you than make space for your body to react to anger. And sometimes, we have no idea we’ve forgotten how to breathe.

Just breathe. Usually, I hear someone saying this when they think I'm getting angry. But breathing deeply can do a lot more for you than make space for your body to react to anger. And sometimes, we have no idea we've forgotten how to breathe. #breathe #painmanagement #selfcare #selfcarehacks #insomnia #stress

You Need to Just Breathe Like a Baby

“Just breathe,” my neighbor said.

“I breathe all the time,” I said with a sad sigh into my cell phone. I’d had to turn down her offer to go for a walk because my chest hurt so badly.

“Have you gone to a doctor?”

“Multiple times. Everyone calls the pain something else. But they all assure me it’s a heart attack.”

“Can you make it next door?”

“Absolutely.” I loved my neighbor, and she didn’t ask for things very often. “I’ll head over now. But why do you want to see me?”

“I want to watch you breathe.”

Just breathe. Usually, I hear someone saying this when they think I'm getting angry. But breathing deeply can do a lot more for you than make space for your body to react to anger. And sometimes, we have no idea we've forgotten how to breathe. #breathe #painmanagement #selfcare #selfcarehacks #insomnia #stress

I laughed and hung up. That sounded about as exciting as watching corn grow. But I went over anyway.

When I got there, we chatted for a few minutes and then she said, “Have you ever heard of diaphragmatic breathing?”

“Dia-what-matic?”

“Breathing from your diaphragm.”

“Oh, maybe my choir teacher mentioned it decades ago in high school.”

She went on to explain that babies breathe naturally from their diaphragm, but that as we get older and stress enters our life, we forget to breathe deeply from our diaphragm.

“Sit up straight,” she warned, “you can’t breathe from your diaphragm if you’re all hunched over.”

I sat straighter and practiced breathing deeply—in through my nose and out through my mouth. Oddly enough, the pain loosened its fiery grip on my back and chest. It hurt to breathe too deeply, but just the act of sitting straight and consciously sucking in air had started to make a difference.

We said our goodbyes and I ambled home, taking time to just breathe in the brisk fall air with damp, leaf-rotten undertones and pushing all my stress out my mouth.

The Science Behind Breathing Deeply

My neighbor, a chronic pain sufferer who has become a pain-management guru and consultant, knows her stuff. In all the stress of caregiving for Pedro during his cancer year, I had somehow forgotten how to breathe.

Four Hacks to Help You Breathe

1. Remember the numbers.

Four-seven-eight. 4-7-8. Breathe in for four seconds. Hold it for seven seconds. Breathe out for eight seconds.

2. Use Your Nose

If you feel like you suffer from forgetfulness and irritability, it probably means you suffer from stress. To regain your ability to remember things, just breathe in through your nose when you want to remember something. Scientists recently discovered that breathing in through the nose enhances memory.

3. Just Breathe to Fall Asleep

If you struggle with insomnia, try the 4-7-8 breathing technique as you lie in bed at night.

4. Breathe Hard 3-5 Times a Week

According to the Mayo Clinic, regular aerobic exercise can ward off viral illnesses, reduce your health risks, and keep excess pounds at bay. It also makes you breathe deeply.

5. Bonus Tip for Mask Breathing

For those situations where you need to wear a mask all day long (or even part of the day), remember to still breathe IN through your nose and OUT through your mouth. Breathing in through your mouth all day can trigger your body and raise your cortisol levels. Shallow breathing (in and out through your mouth) fakes your body into responding as if it were in danger.

Try these five simple self-care hacks that will reduce your pain and increase your enjoyment of life. #breathe #selfcare #selfcarehacks Click To Tweet

17 Comments

  1. These are good practical tips. My fitness watch reminds me when my heart rate stays elevated for too long (and I’m not exercising) and tells me to breathe. It’s funny though, because it’s not usually at times when I think about being stressed but yeah, I usually do need to stop and breathe.

  2. Oh my goodness, what great tips! I definitely don’t breathe well…surprised to see it could be the cause of my forgetfulness!! Pausing to breath now!!

  3. I never thought that taking air
    could be such a task,
    but, with cancer, now I’m there
    and every breath’s a gasp.
    They say I should have oxygen,
    they say that I should rest
    and not intend to go back when
    I could beat every test.
    But I will not stay on the shelf,
    and so each day will try
    to, bit further, push myself
    to live, perchance to die.
    Maybe death is in the cup,
    but I will not be giving up.
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser recently posted…A Need For GrowthMy Profile

  4. My son was very ill 6 years ago. We ended up at Mayo Clinic. It resulted in a diagnosis of regurgitation because he got air into his esophagus. Because the affliction is made worse by stress, he was taught diaphramatic breathing to resolve it.

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Anita Ojeda

Anita Ojeda juggles writing with teaching high school English and history. When she's not lurking in odd places looking for rare birds, you can find her camping with her kids, adventuring with her husband or mountain biking with her students.

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