The Simplest Act of Self-Care for Inner Peace
The breath is the current connecting body and mind…It is the current of life ~ Jon Kabat-Zinn
Conscious breathing is one of the simplest acts of self-care you can offer to yourself, and the best part is that it doesn’t cost a dime and can be done anywhere, anytime even it it’s just for 15 seconds. While breathing is automatic, paying attention to your breath and learning how to manipulate it is one of the most effective ways to generate inner peace, lower everyday stress levels and improve a variety of health factors ranging from mood to metabolism and digestion. Bringing awareness to your breathe, you remind yourself that you are here now. you do not need to stress about the past or worry about the future.
There is a direct relationship between breathe rate, mood state and autonomic nervous system state (sympathetic: fight or flight vs parasympathetic: rest and digest). We’ve all been there before, whether it’s before giving a presentation or getting stuck in a traffic jam when we’re in a rush. As we become nervous and anxious the breathe speeds up causing muscle tension, sweat production, stress, and anxiety. On the other hand slowing your breathing down induces the paraysmptethic response causing feelings of relaxation, calmness, and mental clarity.
Some of my favorite and practical ways to practice mindful breathing are:
10 minutes of meditation in the morning
Using red lights and stop signs as a reminder to literally stop, slow down and breathe.
Breathing while waiting in line at a store.
Set an alarm on your phone as a reminder to breathe.
Take a 5 minute walk during lunch outside and breathe
Each time you fill up your water bottle, take a few conscious breaths
Take 2 minutes to breathe before eating, especially if you are feeling stressed or anxious. Eating while in a rest-and-digest state of mind will help you better digest your food and leave you feeling energized.
While eating, after each bite put your utensil down and take a deep breath (this will also help improve digestion, reduce bloating, and gas)