Throughout the day we breathe. It’s how we sustain life. Breathing is typically an unconscious process but did you know that conscious deep breathing can be helpful in so many ways? It’s a small action that can make a big impact on stress, nerves, and focus.
Conscious deep breathing
You have many options when consciously breathing. In my opinion, there is no ‘right way’. What matters most is to find the best method for you.
One form of conscious deep breathing that I think is important is breathing from your belly. Breathing from your chest is considered shallow breathing while breathing from your belly is a much deeper way of breathing.
When I talk to clients about breathwork, I also have them try circle breathing. Circle breathing is inhaling from your belly through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. It circulates the breath a bit differently throughout your body than nose or mouth breathing.
How conscious deep breathing is beneficial
Conscious breathing is useful, beneficial, and effective. It helps lower stress and nerves. In your next moment of stress, nerves or anxiety try utilizing some deep breathing techniques and see what the impact is. Not only can this kind of breathing significantly lower stress and nerves but it reduces the severity of any future episodes too.
Another important benefit of conscious breathing? It allows you greater focus. We all fall prey to multitasking which more often than not doesn’t work and we find ourselves back at square one because we haven’t really focused on any one thing. Have you ever been reading a page or two and realized you don’t know what you just read? It’s quite common because you are in your head thinking which is a form of multitasking. Conscious breathing can help by allowing you to be present and in the moment.
When to use it
Conscious breathing can be used in many ways. It can be used to stave off stress and nerves. It’s quite common for athletes, musicians, and other performers to use deep breathing as part of a pre-performance routine. It’s also quite common for business leaders to use it before a presentation.
Conscious breathing can also be used to cope during the initial stages of stress and anxiety. I work with my clients to remind themselves when triggered with nerves to recognize, breathe deeply and refocus. This also helps them to be present. Why do I coach them to do this during the initial stages? Once you are too deep into a stressful or nervous situation, it’s difficult to get yourself back out.
My favorite breathing technique
I’ve tried many different breathing techniques, but I like the simplest form: inhaling air from the belly through the nose and exhaling through the mouth while relaxing everything else. This immediately helps me regain calm and focus.
If I am feeling a little more trapped in stress or nerves, I will add counting. The counting doesn’t have to be for a particular amount of time. I’ll count and inhale as much as is comfortable and then do the same when exhaling.
In general, I’ve found that if I can focus on conscious deep breathing, I am truly focused. But when I am feeling a little more stressed or nervous counting adds one more layer of focus. This does not mean I don’t get distracted but it’s much harder to be distracted while counting.