Deep breathing is the foundation for brain health and mental clarity. Case in point: When you’re physically or emotionally stressed, your breathing becomes more rapid and shallow. You may stop breathing altogether for brief periods without even realizing it.
These changes in breathing patterns bring less life-sustaining oxygen into your lungs. And herein lies the problem. See, your brain uses 20 percent of the oxygen in your body. If you don’t get enough oxygen, mental clarity fades and you’ll have barely enough energy to get by.
By breathing deeply, you are able to take in large amounts of oxygen. From your lungs, oxygen moves into your bloodstream where it binds to red blood cells and is transported to all the cells and tissues in your body—including your brain.
To avoid shallow breathing and reduced oxygen production, try this deep abdominal breathing exercise:
- Lie flat on your back with your knees pulled up. Keep your feet slightly apart. Try to breathe in and out through your nose.
- Inhale deeply. As you breathe in, allow your stomach to relax so that the air flows into your abdomen. Your stomach should balloon out as you breathe in. Visualize your lungs filling with air as your chest swells out.
- Imagine that the air you inhale is filling your body with energy.
- Exhale deeply. As you breathe out, let your stomach and chest collapse. Imagine the air being pushed out, first from your abdomen and then from your lungs.
- Imagine that the air you exhale is carrying away fatigue, concerns, and upset.
- Repeat the process for three to five minutes, keeping your attention on your breath. Your entire body will feel relaxed. This breathing exercise will also strengthen muscles in your abdomen and chest. It is also very useful for anyone with respiratory problems.
Read other brain health articles: