This post forms part of the A-Z of Self-Care for Busy Parents series. If you missed the introductory post you can read it here.
As busy parents we are constantly on the go, whether its running round after the kids, cleaning, playing taxi, cooking, fielding 10 questions a minute. Even when we do get a chance to sit for five minutes, chances are our minds are still busy writing to-do lists or stressing over whatever element of mum guilt has us in it’s grips that hour. Sound familiar? What we really need to do, is take a moment to breathe.
Breathing is such an automatic thing we rarely take time to give it much thought. But if we are in a constant state of ‘doing’ all the time, whether physically or mentally, out breathing will become shallow. The whole function of our body and mind relies on a steady supply of oxygen and when we aren’t breathing deeply enough we are making it harder for our bodies to function effectively, leading to all sorts of issues such as increased stress and anxiety due to the lack of oxygen making your feel tense and nervous.
Benefits of Breathing Deeply
- Increased energy as more oxygen is supplied to your body.
- Reduced anxiety – shallow breathing puts the body in fight or flight mode, taking deeper breaths lets your body know there’s no danger..
- Cleanses the lungs and improves lung capacity and performance, which in turn can stop you getting sick so often.
- Lowers your heart rate, which in turn improves blood pressure and circulation.
- Relieves pain – why else do they teach it for labour?
- Improves posture as breathing deeply forces you to stand/sit up straight.
- Aids digestion.
- Improves your mood through neurochemical production in the brain.
- Helps you sleep better.
- Strengthens the major organs.
- Strengthens the immune system.
- Aids weight control – the extra oxygen can be used to feed cells and tissues in those who are underweight and can all help burn excess fat in those who are overweight.
How To Breathe Deeply
There are a wealth of different breathing exercises you can try out but when your time is limited you may not want to learn a fancy new breathing exercise where you forget whether you’re meant to breathing out through your mouth or your nose and how many counts you’re meant to be doing for this one. So start simple. At it’s essence it’s all about making sure you take in as much air as possible. Your belly button should move away from the spine and your chest should widen as your lungs fill with air. Draw the breath in slowly to a count of 5 (or whatever number you can manage, it may be higher or lower), hold for a count of two and then release slowly for the same count. Do this 10 times or for 2-3 minutes, or how ever long is comfortable. Breathing through your nose slows the breath further because it’s a smaller airway and gives the lungs chance to extract more oxygen but if you have a cold it can make this harder or course, so breathe out through your mouth if you need to. All deep breathing is better than none.
Once you’ve gotten used to take time out of your day to breathe deeply you can always look into more formal breathing exercise and techniques to further your practice.
How to Incorporate Deep Breathing Into Your Day
I find using certain cues as reminders to breathe deeply really helps me incorporate it into every day, how about using the following:
- Everyone has heard the adage about counting to ten when you get stressed, but how about changing that to ten deep breaths the next time the kids start driving you crazy.
- While waiting for the kettle to boil.
- Waiting at traffic lights.
- First thing on a morning when the alarm clock goes off.
- While washing up.
- As soon as the last child is in bed.
- During the adverts of your favourite show.
Basically, fit it in in whatever way works for you. Even you only manage to do it once a day, that’s a big improvement on not doing it at all. And it will soon become part of you daily life. Your mind and body will thank you for it.
Need more tips for self-care? Don’t want to miss the rest of the series? Enter your details in the box below to receive it in your inbox every week. I also have a post with 21 Quotes About The Power of Breathing Deeply with FREE printable versions of every quote.