Do you want to know what my biggest lifelong obstacle has been when it comes to taking better care of myself?
Get ready for it...BREATHING.
Are you laughing? Confused? How can I be struggling with something my body does on its own?
Yes, I inherently breathe. But how do I breathe? Do I breathe well?
You’re starting to ask yourself the same question right now, aren’t you?
When I began to explore my own breathing, I often caught myself NOT breathing. I would hold my breath regularly, taking short, “chesty” breaths while bearing down in between.
A few years back, I was studying yoga, this breathing challenge was given a name. I had a “reverse breathing pattern,” meaning I would pull my belly in and hold my inhale (sucked in)...almost like I was waiting for something painful to happen next.
My guess is that this stemmed from more than a few generations of anxious, high strung nervous systems along with my own highly sensitive being developing its own protective mechanism against the energy intake I would often receive from the people around me.
Oh...and...ahem...true transparency and confession time. My early life smoking habit most certainly didn’t help matters. Yes, the holistic gal you see before you was once a long-time smoker of both cigarettes and marijuana.
Truth bomb. My breath was BROKE.
True relaxation escaped me. Activating rest felt impossible. My “fight or flight” response was constantly in overdrive and my cortisol levels further proved it. I was wound up like a frightened animal.
If there’s anything I’ve always been committed to, it’s finding solutions. Once I diagnose a problem (i.e. I actually admit it or see it for the first time), I know it’s time to do the work to fix it. It’s important to say, this work isn’t an overnight, easy button solution. It’s WORK. Slowly, methodically, I began to peel back the layers on my breathing, exploring how to better achieve true rest and relaxation.
Six-ish years in, and I’d safely safe that I’m a beginner. Yup, that’s right. I’m a beginner. Still. I am NOT the guru that has arrived in enlightened, round-the-clock peace and relaxation. I am right there with you, navigating daily trials, setbacks and frustrations to try and claim more and more portions of my life for myself.
I just want to feel friggin’ better. Don’t you?!
Health food, exercise, essential oils - all awesome, all effective. But without the deeper work to heal my overdrive, always -nervous system and my constricted breathing, I can only get so far.
It’s important to look the real problem right in the face, acknowledge it, and say “I can fix this.” And dig in, with grace and intention.
The good news? Breathing basics are something you can manage. It’s doable. And it will take you a long way on your journey to health.
Here’s what I did (and do!) every day, two to three times throughout the day, to rewire my breathing and build the foundation that will heal my adrenal fatigue.
If you are able, lay down with your hands on your belly.
Fully inhale through your nose. Your belly should rise first, as your breath swirls up through your torso, hitting your chest last.
Without holding your breath, in a rhythmic, gentle fashion, release your exhale for a longer period than your inhale. If it helps, slowly count to 4 on your inhale, and count to 6 on your exhale to further track your mind and peace.
Breath can be practiced literally anywhere, anytime. It is our constant companion and a steady guide on the path towards healing.
When lying down isn’t possible, practice where you are.
Take a moment to reset, refresh and restore. 2-3 minutes a few times a day will change your life. It changed mine!