Melt Stress by Breathing Well

We all breathe, but very few of us take time to think about how we are breathing.  You will take anywhere between 17,000 and 23,000 breaths today.  In fact, oxygen is the most important nutrient for us as humans, even more important than water.  So it makes sense that how we breathe matters.

Breathing is so important that there is redundancy engineered into our body: we can breathe either through our nose or our mouth.  So the question is, does it matter which one we choose?  Let’s look at the role each plays.

The nose is the primary way that we are meant to breathe.  All infants naturally breathe through their nose.  In fact, my 8 month old son hates it when we try to get the boogers out of his nose.  We are interfering with his ability to breathe!  Our mouth is there as backup in emergency situations where our bodies need to take in large amounts of oxygen.  In fact, breathing through your mouth triggers your sympathetic nervous system, putting you into fight or flight mode and leaving you in a constant state of stress.

Similarly, how we use our lungs to breathe is important as well.  The upper part of the lungs contain panic receptors, so shallow chest breathing will also leave you in a constantly stressed out state.  The lower lobe of the lung, however, contains calming receptors.  Taking big, deep breaths causes your body to relax because your nervous system feels safe.

So, the key to feeling relaxed and calm is to breathe in through your nose and deep into your lungs by engaging your diaphragm.

Try This

Here’s a simple exercise to check in with your breath and begin breathing well.

Lie down on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.  Place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach.  Begin by breathing naturally and notice, are you breathing through your nose or your mouth?  Which hand is rising as you inhale, the one on your chest or the one on your stomach?

Now, begin breathing through your nose and focus on getting the hand on your stomach to rise and fall with your breath.  The hand on your chest should remain stationary.  Do this for five to ten breaths.

Now, check in with your body.  How do you feel?  Do you notice a difference in your body after practicing this breathing technique?

As you go throughout your day, bring awareness back to your breath and just check in.  Notice how you’re feeling and how you’re breathing.  See if you notice a difference in how you feel throughout the day as you begin to become more aware of your breath.

Keep transforming.


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