You know why they tell you to take a deep breath when you’re piping mad and ready to explode?
It’s because deep breathing is incompatible with anger.
Anger—and frustration, and annoyance, and irritation, and all the other negative toxic emotions—are little factories for the production of stress hormones, specifically cortisol and adrenaline.
And cortisol makes you fat.
It also shrinks a part of your brain called the hippocampus. And it can increase insulin resistance, even if you’re not eating a lot of sugar.
And the conventional wisdom about deep breaths happens to be right. It reduces stress, normalizes blood pressure, reduces blood sugar and inflammation and, if you’re lucky, heal your soul. Or at least soothe it considerably.
Here’s a great way to get started, and you can actually do it in fewer than ten minutes.
1. Lie down in a comfortable position (but try not to fall asleep!). In yoga, this is called Savasana (corpse pose), which should give you some idea of how relaxed you should be. This pose is used in yoga to practice stilling a hyperactive brain by gaining control over breathing.
2. Your arms should be by your sides, rolled out so your palms are facing up.
3. Your legs should be relaxed. Put support (like a rolled towel) under your knees and allow them to naturally roll outward.
4. Close your eyes.
5. Breathe normally for about a minute. Pay attention to your breath.
6. On each exhalation, imagine that all the points of contact beteen your body and the floor are softening.
7. After one or two minutes of normal breathing, graduallybegin to extend the length of your exhalation. Exhaile deeply and slowly.
8. The goal is to inhale fully on a count of four and then exhale fully on a count of eight. In other words, you exhalation should be about twice as long as your inhalation.
9. Continue this 1-2 ratio for four to five minutes.
10.Go back to regular breathing for one to two minutes.
11. You’re done! Eazy peazy.
Listen, don’t get too hung up on the specifics, the counts, or the number of minutes. The idea is as simple as just breathing in slowly, breathing out slowly, and doing it consistently for a bunch of minutes. That’s it.
There are dozens of variations on this theme. Find one that you’re comfortable with and then use it.
A few minutes of deep breathing every day is the cheapest, easiest, and most powerful intervention you can do for your health– and for your well-being in general.
So there you have it. Seven simple steps. Nothing really complicated. Eat real food, most of it earlier in the day, and double up on your water. Go to bed a half hour earlier, think about some cool things in your life once in a while, and take a walk whenever you can. Try to make it a habit. Try to make all of them a habit.
And remember to breathe.
And, whenever you can, with gratitude.
Because wherever you are in your life, I can guarantee you one thing: breathing significantly beats the alternative.