Did you know we breathe more than 25 000 times a day without even thinking about it? It’s one of the most natural human processes which is often taken for granted throughout our everyday lives. Breathing gives us life, so it’s no wonder that practicing certain breathing techniques can help to boost oxygen levels, reduce stress and anxiety and offer a host of other benefits.
As we age, many people tend to develop respiratory issues and difficulties with breathing. This is why learning to control your breathing can help to alleviate some of these symptoms while also helping to improve both physical and mental capabilities.
Both caregivers and their loved ones can work to improve the body’s oxygen levels, relieve symptoms associated with asthma attacks, high blood pressure, shortness of breath, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and sleep apnoea. This, in turn, can help to improve immune function, energy levels and reduce stress and anxiety within your everyday life.
Here are three breathing techniques to begin practicing today:
1. Diaphragmatic Breathing
Most people breathe incorrectly, taking short, shallow breaths straight into their chest throughout the day. For those with limited lung capacity, the shortness of breath is even greater. A proper breath is drawn from the diaphragm, pushing it down and expanding the belly. Deep diaphragmatic breathing can dramatically help to increase oxygen flow and levels:
Step 1: Sit up straight, place one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest
Step 2: Inhale slowly through the nose and feel the stomach expand with each full breath
Step 3: Exhale slowly out the mouth
Step 4: Repeat 6 or more times each minute – try and do this for 15 minutes to boost oxygen levels and reduce stress.
2. The 4-7-8 Breathing Technique
This breathing technique is highly effective in helping you fall asleep faster, helping to ease tension throughout the body and promote relaxation. The technique has also been proven to help beat food cravings throughout the day, reduce anxiety levels and assist with insomnia.
Step 1: Breathe out of the mouth fully, creating a ‘’whoosh’’ noise as you do so
Step 2: Inhale through the nose, keeping the mouth closed, while counting to 4
Step 3: Hold this breath and count to 7
Step 4: Exhale through the mouth for a count of 8, make sure to repeat the ‘’whoosh’’ sound
Step 5: Repeat steps two –four at least 5 times.
3. The Buteyko Nose Breathing Technique
This breathing technique came about in the 1950’s, aimed at curbing asthma attacks and helping to treat a host of respiratory issues. People across the globe have consequently adopted this technique because of its natural and effective healing capabilities. This breathing technique has reportedly provided relief for thousands who suffer from asthma, hypertension and sleep apnoea. Make sure elderly loved one perform this technique under supervision to avoid hyperventilation.
Step 1: Sit in a quiet, peaceful place, upright and focused on breathing
Step 2: Inhale slowly through the nose and fill the lungs as much as possible
Step 3: Exhale slowly through the nostrils as much as you can, until you feel compelled to inhale once again
Step 4: Repeat steps two and three at least 5 times.
If you want to reap the full benefits of these breathing techniques, whether for your own benefits as a caregiver or to help an elderly loved one, consistency is key. Set some time aside each day to focus on your breathing and track your progress in a diary to note any changes in your health.