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Weekly Wellness Word: Breathe

This week’s word is Breathe

Imagine with me for a moment two dancers on a dance floor. Sometimes they dance when the room is packed with people bumping and jarring them. Other times they are solitary, sweeping across the floor in a grand flouish, bobbing, dipping, lifting their partner freely in the creation of their unique art of movement. The space of an empty dance floor allows them room to move, to cover more ground, to experiment with their dance moves.

Now consider for a moment that one of these dance partners is your emotions and the other is your breath. In those moments when life around you is pressing in, bumping and jarring you, your emotions and breath are restricted, restrained, limited and even possibly damaged by the chaotic environment. At other times, those cherished moments when you feel free to move and express yourself creatively, openly, with room to play around and experiment, try new things...what happens to your emotions and breath then? You will breathe more deeply and freely. Your emotions are freer to lean towards the positive, life-giving end of the emotional spectrum.

Take a little time this week to notice this mysterious dance between your emotions and breath in your own life. When you feel negative emotions, take a second to notice your breathing in that moment. When you feel positive emotions, take a minute to notice what changes in your breathing patterns. Do you breathe differently while working than you do when you are relaxing with your family? If so, reflect a moment about why that is. Jot down a list of the emotions you experience while you are at your work and the emotions you experience during your down time.

Recent research suggests that the connection between breathing and emotions is very strong. Our breathing is affected by the emotions we are feeling. Conversely, we can change our emotions by changing our breathing patterns. If you don't like the way you feel, try breathing differently! For some helpful hints on how to do this, try one of the breathing exercises described at the For More Information link below.

Quote of the Week

"Many people spend considerable amounts of time staring at screens each day, whether it is reading and writing emails or surfing the web. Activities such as these can cause us to inadvertently hold our breath, leading to headache, increased stress, fatigue and loss of concentration. Email apnea, or screen apnea, has been linked to anxiety and depression as well as poor brain health. However, it can be easily remedied with conscious breathing exercises that encourage more sufficient breathing and improved mental health.

Conscious breathing has been shown to have an effect on emotional wellbeing and brain health, allowing for more positive mindsets and perspectives. The cycle of inadequate oxygen to the brain and anxiety can be stopped with exercises and by focusing on breathing slowly and calmly. Anxiety and low blood oxygen have a reciprocal causal relationship, with both leading to increases in one another. In order to prevent the cycle from spiraling out of control, it is imperative to practice exercises to prevent shallow and irregular breathing. With all the medications and psychotherapies employed in the treatment of anxiety disorders, the most effective treatment of all may be to just breathe.

A lack of blood oxygen to the brain weakens the immune system, creating many potential health issues and has been linked to shorter life spans in general. In addition to practicing meditations to regulate conscious breathing, anxiety can also be reduced by decreasing the stressors the body is subjected to. Drinking coffee and even strenuous exercise have been found to lead to lower blood oxygen levels, causing fatigue and releasing stress hormones.”

- Sovereign Health of California

Next Step


Most people hold their breath when they reach forward to pick up the phone or retrieve a document from a shelf. Breath holding tends to stiffen the trunk, tighten the shoulders reduces flexibility and increases the risk of injury. To increase flexibility, Breathe as You Reach.

Begin observing your breath patterns during movement and reaching. Begin exhaling and while continuing to exhale reach for the object such as the phone or document. To remind yourself to breathe during movement, whisper ""Haaaaaah"" very softly as you exhale-allow the exhalation time to be nearly twice as long as the inhalation time.

Practice many times until it is automatic. After integrating breathing with reaching, most people report feeling more flexible and comfortable.

From Healthy Computer Tips - Erik Peper, PhD

Further Information

Experiencing worry, anxiety, anger, or hurt? Can't get rid of negativity? Having trouble sleeping? Experiencing difficulty in concentrating and being able to focus? Had a fight with a loved one? Try one of the 7 breathing techniques suggested by Jean Hall, author of the book Breathe.

Have a GREAT week!

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