Why Not . . . Take a Deep Breath?
Even when life is going well and everything seems to be falling into place, it can be easy to over-book, over-schedule and over-exaggerate our energy levels. And while it may initially seem as though Superman/woman is the fortunate cartoon hero who can do it all, in actuality, such an ability would be exhausting. And I also would be willing to bet that Superwoman doesn’t have time for an afternoon respite sipping a glass of rose and nibbling on a bite of cheese and fruit. I guess that’s one job I won’t be applying for anytime soon.
Life without a pairing of productivity and relaxation is not a simply luxurious life. And that is why the simple conscious decision to catch our breath and inhale deeply can make a profound difference upon the quality of life we live.
Today, I’d like to share with you eight reasons to regularly take deep breaths throughout your day. Perhaps many of you already practice yoga or regular meditations, but just in case you don’t, I’d like to introduce you to the many benefits of such a simple, small habit. Let’s get started:
By stopping in the middle of whatever we are doing, placing both feet on the floor, sitting up straight and taking a deep breath we welcome more oxygen into our bodies and help our minds to focus on the act of breathing and not on the worries swirling around in our heads. And when we calm our minds, we lower the insurgence of adrenaline released when one is feeling stressed.
2. Recalibrate Priorities
Often when we are whizzing through our day, we become a bit robotic – going through the motions – but not necessarily cognizant of why we’re doing what we’re doing. Upon slowing down and taking a few deep breaths, we force ourselves to be present and witness what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. Often when I do this, I realize that what I’m rushing to complete or stressing out about is trivial and not worth the energy.
3. Gain Clarity
Once we follow the advice of reason #2, we gain clarity about what we should be spending time on and what we need to let go of. Often it is the rushing that distracts us from realizing the life we’re living isn’t what we really want. (Click here for more specific benefits of gaining clarity about the direction of your life.)
4. Improve Health
As mentioned in step #1, by taking deep breaths, we allow our bodies/minds to de-stress, and when we de-stress we are engaged in preventative medicine. Excessive stress exacerbates many health problems and reduces the body’s ability to take care of itself.
5. Become More Appreciative
Just as a jet 39,000 feet in the sky flying at tremendous spends cannot see the minute details on the landscapes below, so too is the case of our lives when we fill our day planner with back-to-back events days on end. In order to appreciate the life we have created for ourselves, we must slow down. And it is all but impossible to take a deep breath when we’re not sitting/standing still. It is when we still our minds and bodies that we can truly appreciate all of the amazing details of living.
6. Make Better Decisions
While feeling rushed, the decision-making process can also be abbreviated and bad decisions can be made that result in undesired consequences. Upon being placed in a situation when a decision must be made, slow down, take a deep breath and consider all of the options. Simply by allowing ourselves to engage in a deep breath, we are helping to clear our minds of other distractions so that we can focus solely on the task at hand. Upon following the simple pause, we are better able to decide on a course of action that works best based on the priorities we value most.
7. Time to Think Before Speaking
Having an additional few seconds before opening our mouths to speak can give us time to reflect on the consequences of what we might say. Choosing what we say creates a tone, sets a mode and directly effects how the following events will unfold. So by getting in the habit of taking a deep breath before saying something fueled with emotion, we help ourselves out by eliminating foot-in-mouth syndrome.
8. Create a Life of Quality
A life of contentment and fulfillment is one that is lived with intention. And a life of intention must be lived consciously which requires us all to be present. While yes, after taking a deep breath, it is the action that follows that determines the path we will travel, the benefit is that the breath focuses each of us on the current moment and brings us away from unnecessary worries, allowing for us to be clear about the direction we want to go.
The gift of this daily habit is that it can reset a day, reset your mood and get you back on track. Just five minutes is all it takes.
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