Healthy Living

Mindful Breathing Helped Me With Stress

A few months ago, I wrote a post on my blog about mindfulness. The time was right for me, as I was just back from visiting my mother. She had a stroke about 8 years ago. At the time, she was in her early-80s, but active and sharp, and this was devastating. At her age, you can imagine how everything has deteriorated since. Every time I visit, it gets harder. So I was incredibly interested in an article that was published in TIME magazine. Editor Radhika Jones said that “multitasking is affecting our concentration and mindfulness can sharpen our focus“. Who would have thought? We have been told for years that multitasking was something to be proud of – the ability to do several things at once. It seems now that we were confusing movement with achievement; and, in reality, running this way and that did not always mean we were accomplishing much.

I don’t know about you, but feel so much better about this. I could never, really, do more than a couple of things at a time comfortably. Now I have discovered that we have to do things mindfully. Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present, on the task at hand, and on our present goal. A statement I found on the Psychology Today website says: “when you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience”. 

That was not all I learned. Apparently, being mindful involves breathing properly and I wasn’t. Yes, it all comes down to that – breathing! Frequently, we are told (or we tell our friends) to breathe. A few days ago, I was mentioning that to a friend of mine. She responded that she was “too tired to breathe”.

We know that situations in our lives can make us stressed, tense, and nervous. In this modern world, when we think of fighting stress, we think of changing our diet or our exercise routine. We even think of medication. Very seldom do we think about changing the way we breathe. We take breathing for granted and think we are doing it right, but we are mistaken. You must breathe slowly and deeply in your abdomen (not your chest), holding the air in your lungs and exhaling through your nose or slightly parted mouth. Keep an even rhythm. The trick is to do it all the time; we should do it on a regular basis, until this becomes a normal breathing pattern. It is definitely a learning process, but one we must learn.

Breathing properly makes us powerful because it makes us concentrate and focus. When we learned to breathe right, we can apply mindfulness to all aspects of our lives. So it’s back to basics: BREATHE so we can be mindful, so we can achieve, and so we can live a better, healthier and more enjoyable life.

by Mercedes deMarchena

Photo credit: Shutterstock: Copyright: tmcphotos

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