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Finals Week: Remembering to Breathe

Abdominal or Diaphragmatic Breathing

Perform your best as you end the semester with these important breathing tips!

Breathing is the fundamental necessity of life that we often take for granted. We often do not realize or pay attention to our breath as we go throughout our day however our breathing can indicate our feelings, thoughts, and emotions. Chest breathing or short breaths can be signs of anxiety, stress, or excitement while sighing may indicate defeat, stress, or hopelessness. Rapid or shallow chest breathing is often associated with a stress response and anxiety which can result in the following symptoms:

  • Light-headedness

  • Heart palpitations

  • Weakness

  • Numbness

  • Tingling

  • Agitation

  • Shortness of breath

Meditation requires the use of abdominal or diaphragmatic breathing. This type of breathing uses the following steps:

  1. Inhaled air is drawn deep into the lungs (through your nose) as the abdomen expands, filling like a balloon, making room for the diaphragm to contract downward

  2. Air is exhaled (through your nose (recommended) but can be exhaled through mouth if preferred) as the abdomen and diaphragm relax

Through this form of breathing, the respiratory system is able to do its job of producing energy from oxygen and removing waste products (both physical and mental waste).

Why focus on abdominal breathing?

  • Balance the oxygen and carbon dioxide blood levels in your body

  • Normalize your heart rate

  • Reduce the muscle tension and anxiety present with stress related symptoms

  • Improve your mind/body connection

  • It is the easiest way to elicit the relaxation response

Practice Your Breathing:

Abdominal Breathing:

  • Use the above steps and practice 3-5 breaths daily (i.e. in the morning before you get out of bed, at nighttime)

  • As you begin your practice, it is helpful to put one hand on your chest and one hand on your abdomen as you complete your breathing exercises. If you are breathing correctly, your hand on your abdomen should be rising higher than the one on your chest

  • Increase (2-3 times daily) as you continue your practice

Check back for additional breathing exercises this week!

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