Beyond "drink more water" my number one piece of advice to people is "Just Breathe".
“Observe your own body. It breathes. You breathe when you are asleep, when you are no longer conscious of your own ideas of self-identity. Who, then, is breathing? The collection of information that you mistakenly think it’s you is not the main protagonist in this drama called the breath. In fact, you are not breathing; breath is naturally happening to you. You can purposely end your own life, but you cannot purposely keep your own life going. The expression, “My life” is actually an oxymoron, a result of ignorance and mistaken assumption. You don’t posses life; life expresses itself through you. Your body is a flower that life let bloom, a phenomenon created by life.”
― Ilchi Lee
Technically speaking, when we breathe it's fairly automated. Take a breath in and you engage your diaphragm which will begin to push down. As it pushes down, it pulls your lungs down with it. Your lungs and diaphragm press down against your abs which makes room for your lungs to fill with air. As you breathe out, the diaphragm presses back upward against your lungs, helping to expel carbon dioxide. I'm pretty glad I don't have to remember to do all that, pretty sure I'd forget a step and screw everything up.
There is also a deeper level to all of this. When we engage our breathe, either by slowing it down, or focusing on deeper breathes; there are a whole slew of impacts down stream that we can benefit from.
To really get this it is important to understand that there really are two types of breathing. Well, two that we'll concern with here.
The first is shallow breathing. Typically, we will breathe shallow when we are in distress. When we shallow breathe we are stifling the diaphragm's full range of motion. In the end this means that the very base of your lungs, where small blood vessels reside, never get oxygen. The net result is that you're left feeling more anxious than before and your cells will end up less oxygenated than they need to be.
On the flip side, when you take long deep breathes you are encouraging oxygen exchange and cleansing out your lungs and cells from carbon dioxide. Deep breathing will slow the heartbeat and helps to lowers blood pressure. Beyond a slower heart beat, there are a number of other benefits as well.
1. Greater sense of overall peace- Deep breathing triggers our parasympathetic system, and releases endorphins which helps neutralize stress and creates a calming feeling.
2. Clear mind for greater action-When that little voice in your head is too loud, taking a deep slow breath can help re-center, quiet that voice and make the present moment louder.
3. Reduce the acidity of the body-Alkaline water is all the rage. Instead of spending $5.00 on a bottle of tap water, try deep breathing. When you exhale, the main component of your breathe is acidic carbon dioxide. Beyond that, aside from diet, stress is one of the leading causes to a highly acidic body, and as discussed above, deep breathing lowers your stress levels.
4. Reduce asthmatic symptoms by breathing deeply. When someone has asthma or other breathing restrictive challenges, old air collects in the lungs making breathing more difficult over time. Deep breathing, and breathing exercises build up the lung muscles while clearing out the old stale air.
5. If you're an athlete you know how important sleep can be. Practicing deep breathing before sleep can help you fall asleep faster, reduce the bodies stress response from the day and help you sleep better. All of that means better recovery and that means more gains in the gym. Boo yah mo fo.
Now that you know why it's so important to breath deep, go do it. When you find yourself stressed out pay attention to your breath, slow down and breathe.
Light warm up for 10 minutes
1 minute burpees
1 minute jump squats
1 minute lunges
Run 5 minutes
1 minute wall sit
1 minute mountain climbers
1 minute jump lunges
Run 5 minutes
1 minute sit-ups
1 minute push-ups
1 minute slow push-up (1 push-up for 1 minute)
1 minute slow sit-up
Run 10 minutes