Today is the first in our new series of Mindfulness Monday. Each week I will be showcasing a different mindfulness technique and explaining how this has been helpful to me and how it may well benefit you.
Mindfulness is such a large area that is being continually developed that I believe there is something for everyone, whether you are chronically ill or not.
It may seem strange to be thinking about learning how to breathe as it’s something we do all the time.
So why do need mindful breathing?
Mindful breathing is about utilising our breath to allow our bodies and minds to relax. When we take the time to slow down our breath we allow ourselves the opportunity to take some control over our sympathetic nervous system (responsible for ‘fight or flight’) and allow us to calm ourselves.
Like so many things that are branded as the ‘next big thing’ breathing techniques have been taught for centuries. One classic example is in the Hindu practice of Yoga where breathing deeply and correctly is just as important as the physical movements you make.
I will go in to more detail on exactly how breathing calms our sympathetic systems in future posts.
Why do I need Mindful Breathing?
One of my symptoms of Chronic Fatigue/ME is I get inappropriate fight or flight responses where I get a flood of adrenaline, putting my body on high alert. As my body perceives loud noises/mild shocks/changes in the environment to be a danger. These adrenaline spikes are incredibly draining and further my already constant fatigue.
How do I use controlled breathing?
One of the things I do to counter these adrenaline spikes is my slowed breathing. I do this a few times a day (or when needed) either by the box breathing or by breathing in for four counts, holding for two and breathing our for six. I then continue to do this for 5 or 10 minutes (setting a timer to relaxing sounds via Alexa). This helps calm my body and rests my mind.
I also do this after doing something mentally exerting (such as writing this post!) to allow my brain to relax. As well as at the start and end of the day.
I don’t have a chronic illness so why do I need to do mindful breathing?
We can all benefit from greater relaxation in our lives and we all have times when we need to calm our brains to concentrate or because we’ve been doing too much. It might be before an exam, presentation or work or first thing in the morning helping you to get ready for the day ahead.
I’d recommend these exercises to anyone and would love to find out how you got on with them. Let me know in the comments below!