Updated: Jan 4, 2022
Try practising a three-part breathing exercise anytime you need to add clarity, refocus your attention or relax after a bout of stressful activity.
Breathing is natural to all human beings. But how often we notice our breathing patterns and slow down to adjust them so that they benefit rather than hinder us?
The simple breathing exercise recommended in this post is part of self-care routine and physical and psychological self-care in particular. It helps us to look after both, our body and our mind. And if we have a healthy body, it can also help us to look after our mind, so win-win from whatever side you look at it.
How will breathing exercise help us to regain focus, you might ask.
Focus is like an unruly toddler. One minute it's playing nicely with his toys, another he's running around the room throwing tantrums and ignoring any requests for order.
And the trick with the toddler is to switch his attention as quickly as possible so he complies with your requests. The same goes for our wandering mind - we need to grab it and show it another path. We need to gently teach it to regain focus to avoid further meltdowns.
The three-part breathing exercise does exactly that. It stops you from going into a rabbit hole of procrastination and helps you to regain focus and clarity. It stabilises your mind before it runs away from you. And all you need is 5 minutes of your time.
“The way we breathe directly affects the chemistry of our brains in a way that can enhance our attention and improve our brain health.” - Science Daily
Harvard Health Publishing recommend deep & relaxing breathing to decrease 'fight-or-flight' response and diminish stress. Because stress makes it harder for us to focus. It's achieved by practicing deep rather than shallow breathing while paying attention to the act of breathing itself and not necessarily how many breaths we are taking.
There are a few simple rules you need to follow in order to gain real benefits from this breathing exercise.
Breathing Exercise Preparation
Sit down comfortably on a chair with your back straight and your feet shoulder length apart.
Put your hands on your knees, palms up.
Relax your shoulders, chin and neck.
Close your eyes and open your mouth ever so slightly to avoid clenching your jaws.
Release tension from your body by tensing and relaxing it a few times.
Put one hand on your belly or slightly above it.
Breathing Exercise Practice
Breathe in through your nose and fill your lungs with air.
Hold your breath on a count of four (could be increased with practice).
Breathe out slowly through your nose.
Repeat a few times. As extra oxygen starts swimming through your body, the focus and concentration will return. This exercise will also calm your nervous system as your body relaxes.
You could also include calming or relaxing phrases that you could say in your mind as you are breathing in or out. For instance, 'I breathe in calm and I exhale stress'. You could adapt those phrases to match your needs.