Deep Breathing: Your Tool for Stress-Free Weight LossPosted: January 17, 2013 in Lifestyle by Craig Primack MD FACP
Losing weight in Chandler or Scottsdale can be stressful. It isn’t always easy to balance your normal life with the added responsibilities of your weight loss diet and exercise program. When you have an especially stressful day, it can slow your progress with a bad attitude and the extra calories of harmful habits like emotional eating.
Unfortunately, stress is not something you will ever be able to permanently eliminate from your life. For better or worse, we all have to deal with stress, and this is what makes it so important to learn ways to manage your stress levels during medical weight loss.
One of the simplest and most valuable stress management techniques is deep breathing. Because all you need to master deep breathing is a pair of lungs and a few minutes, it can be done by just about anyone, anywhere, anytime.
The Art of Breathing Deeply
Though breathing is something we do 20,000 times a day without thinking about it, the majority of breaths we take are not ideal. We tend to take short breaths that do not fully engage the muscles of the diaphragm or fill the lower lungs with air, and this can contribute to anxiety and shortness of breath.
Deep breathing, or diaphragmatic breathing, corrects this problem. When you take a deep breath, your diaphragm descends to make room for your full lungs, your lower belly rises and exhaled carbon dioxide is fully traded for inhaled oxygen. In addition to helping you overcome stress, this can provide two significant changes in your body:
- A slower heart rate
- Lower or more stable blood pressure
Each of us is naturally equipped to take advantage of this powerful self-healing tool. To get started with deep breathing, find a calm place to sit or lie down comfortably, then follow these steps:
- Breathe in deeply through your nose. Let the air fill your lungs and move down into your lower belly, expanding your abdomen. Focus closely on the act of breathing and imagine the air bringing peace and calm into your body.
- Breathe out completely through your nose or mouth—whichever feels most natural. As you breathe out, imagine the leaving air taking your anxieties with it.
- Repeat for as long as needed.
As you try deep breathing for the first time, alternate between deep breaths and normal, shallow breaths and note the difference in the way they make you feel. Hold your hand to your abdomen just below the belly button and feel the way it expands with each deep breath—your hand should rise about an inch when you breathe in.
Deep breathing can help you relax quickly in a stressful moment, but will give you even more benefit if you turn it into a daily habit. Try doing deep breathing exercises for 10 minutes a day, then work your way up to 20 minutes.
Of course, deep breathing will be even more valuable if combined with other relaxation techniques. How else have you managed stress while losing weight in Chandler or Scottsdale? Tell us in the comments below!