8 common breathing mistakes to avoid
Breathing is such an involuntary and automatic process that one forgets that, unlike heartbeats, they can control and manage their breathing. One should usually breathe 12 to 20 times per minute. In addition to this, there are other essential things that one needs to be mindful of while breathing. Most people do not think twice about how they breathe, but the following mistakes can affect overall health in the long run:
Breathing through the mouth
One is supposed to breathe in oxygen through the nose and breathe out carbon dioxide using the mouth. However, breathing through the mouth can affect respiratory health as this does not allow the nose to carry out its functions. The nose is an incredibly complex organ with about 20 functions that actively aid breathing. Some of these are trapping dust particles and pollen grains, steadying the airflow, humidifying the air as it moves toward the lungs, assisting the diaphragm, and producing nitric oxide. By breathing through the mouth, one does not let the nose filter dust and other allergens. Additionally, one tends to breathe in about 2 to 3 times more oxygen than the required amount when breathing with their mouth.
Breathing too fast
Rapid breathing may seem harmless, but it is one of the common breathing mistakes that can wear out the lungs. Healthcare experts recommend breathing in a slow and calm manner as much as possible. Gentle breathing ensures that a soft wave of air moves through the airways and the lungs upon inhaling. This, in turn, allows the lungs to carry out their job slowly and efficiently, and the respiratory and circulatory systems work in perfect sync without one rushing each other. One should not breathe in any more than 20 breaths per minute. Fast breathing causes the systems to overwork and, resultingly, perform with lesser efficiency than normal. So, breathing at an ideal rate is essential, even when one is stressed, panting after an exercise, or performing any task that causes their breathing speed to rise dramatically.
Using the chest instead of the diaphragm
With diaphragm breathing, the upper chest and abdomen remain almost perfectly still, something that healthcare and breathing experts recommend. The diaphragm is a critical component of breathing, and it enables a looped process of inhalation and exhalation. Using the upper chest to breathe in and out can strain the muscles in the chest area and also make one vulnerable to chest and neck pain in the long term. Additionally, diaphragmatic breathing is deeper and, as a result, richer and more nourishing than upper chest breathing. When one engages their entire diaphragm while breathing, it may not be apparent to others, unlike when engaging in shallow upper chest breathing.
Not exhaling enough while exercising
One may disregard the importance of rhythmic breathing when they work out. While exercising mostly involves picking up weights, straining various parts of the body to strengthen them, and repetitions to increase endurance and stamina, breathing is also a crucial part of workout sessions. If one is dealing with a lung condition, they will find it hard to inhale and exhale properly while exercising. However, for those without such ailments, exhaling carbon dioxide out of their lungs at regular intervals is vital while working out. One must ensure that they are fully focused on the depth of their breathing when engaging in any physical activity. Deep inhales and exhales can help increase the effectiveness of exercises.
Having a bad posture while breathing
While using smartphones or working at a desk for long hours, one can develop a bent posture. Among other things, bad posture affects respiratory health. Having an incorrect posture adds several pounds of pressure to the shoulders and chest, making breathing shallow. Those who work in offices sit for hours on end in front of computer screens, so they will find it challenging to maintain a good posture. To begin with, they can take breaks of 15 to 20 minutes to stretch their legs and correct their posture once every 2 to 3 hours of work. On the other hand, those who constantly look down when using their smartphones can also reduce their screen time and correct their posture frequently. If neglected, bad posture can disrupt breathing and respiratory health in the long run.
Not managing stress
Stress and anxiety can have a bad influence on respiratory health. When stressed or anxious, one tends to breathe really fast. Rapid heartbeats and an increased rate of blood circulation can trigger fast breathing. Further, anxiety causes breathing to become shallow, leading to insufficient intake of oxygen, dry mouth, and fatigue, among other issues affecting overall health. To prevent this, one needs to manage their stress levels and set the right pace for breathing even in stressful situations. They should breathe in and out slowly, which can also help them calm down. Recognizing and correcting shallow breathing can take a bit of practice, so one can take up relaxation techniques like meditation and other mindfulness exercises to master rhythmic breathing even under tense situations. Stress, as it is, affects several aspects of the body, such as blood pressure and brain function; one should not let it affect their breathing as well.
Sucking in the stomach
One may be tempted to suck in their belly from time to time, but it limits the range of their diaphragm. Sucking in the stomach can result in breathing becoming shallow and less effective. So, one should breathe normally and let the body relax in its natural state as much as possible.
Breathing too deeply
Deep breathing is beneficial, but one should not take it too far. Breathing too deeply can affect the lungs and deprive the blood of carbon dioxide, and mess with the respiration process. So, one should avoid exhaling too much air.