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Breath, Sis!

Have you taken a breath today, Sis?

Take note of breathing in and out of your diaphragm versus shallow breathing through your chest.

I am often holding my breath and not completing an inhale after an exhale. I have been doing this since I was 10yrs old and going on stage for dance competitions. I would literally hold my breath through the whole routine and then wonder why I would start to choke immediately leaving the stage. I also do this whenever I am public speaking. Prior to hitting the stage or going up to speak, my breathing would be shallow and rapid. My heart would be beating fast and my stomach would be irritated. (Just some of the symptoms of our sympathetic nervous system preparing us for fight, flight, or freeze.) As soon as it was time to perform; however, my breathing would be held so tightly you would think I was training for an underwater adventure. Now of course I was breathing but definitely not in a consistent pattern.

It wasn't until my adult years that I realized I am often on guard and holding my breath, especially when I am preoccupied with a project. I've come to realize that holding my breath has been a method of coping with anxiety for me. A way of bracing myself for perceived "danger." Good ole sympathetic nervous system. A way to shove down my emotions and distress in an effort to keep going. "Don't let them see you sweat" or breath in this case (lol).

As I have learned more about the body, I have come to understand that reminding myself to breath and to breath deeply helps to not only regulate my nervous system but it also allows for blood flow back to my brain and heart. When I am breathing deeply and consistently during times of "perceived danger" or anxiety it allows me to step back into the clear thinking process of my pre-frontal cortex. I make better decisions and manage my emotions from a more regulated space.

If you can resonate with my experience to any degree take some time to check in with yourself daily regarding the state of your breath. Try this exercise out and reflect on your experience. There are so many useful breathing techniques floating around out there. Choose what works best for your body and your abilities. Engaging in diaphragmatic breathing can certainly feel uncomfortable at first so be gentle with yourself and...

...Breath, Sis!

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