How well do you breathe? Right now as you read this, stop and take a minute to notice your breath. Are you breathing shallow or fast or deep or slow? If you pay attention to your breathing, you may find that you slow it down and take deeper breaths.

If so, you also may find that, as you do so, you begin to relax a little more. You may even feel calmer.

As you breathe more fully and deeply, you become more present and in tune with what is happening inside your body and mind.

When we take deep breaths, our abdomens and chest cavity expands. We use more lung capacity to breathe this way. We need to remember to always inhale through our nose and exhale out of our mouth. Sometimes it helps to put your palm on your abdomen to help remind you to expand your belly and not raise your shoulders. We need to breathe in and out, not up and down. You will find a great, how-to visual example here.

Dr. Andrew Weil says: “If I had to limit my advice on healthier living to just one tip, it would be to

Simply learn how to breathe correctly.”

You can find some of his recommended breathing exercises here.

Stress and anxiety can decrease dramatically when we use diaphragmatic breathing. This type of breathing helps soothe our nervous system. Diaphragmatic breathing also helps us breathe more easily and, thus we use less energy.

Whenever you feel anxious, upset, short of breath, stressed, or tense, take a minute and notice your breath. You may need to change your pattern of breathing. Take full deep breaths. Notice what happens. My hope is that you will become calmer, your tension will lessen, and you will become more physically and emotionally present within yourself. Celebrate your ability to use your breath as a helpful healing tool.

Breathe.