Scientists say we breathe in roughly 25 sextillion (that’s 25 followed by 21 zeros) molecules with every inhale. Since we already know we take about 17,000-30,000 breaths each day… that’s at least 425 septillion (24 zeros) molecules of air a day!
And that’s if we’re just sitting around all day. Any movement increases our air intake. Do you do chores? Have you ever played tag? Do you go running? All of these activities increase the number of molecules you breathe each day.
In fact, we spend so much time breathing that most people don’t even think about it. When was the last time you stopped and paid attention to your breath? You may notice when you breathe hard during exercise, but that’s probably it. However, being mindful of your breath can have benefits for your health.
Do you think all breathing happens in your lungs? Not so! To breathe deeply, you need to use your diaphragm. That’s a muscle in your abdomen. Breathing with just your lungs is called “shallow breathing,” and it causes increased anxiety and shortness of breath. Shallow breathing also stops the lowest part of your lungs from getting oxygen.
When you use your diaphragm, it’s called “deep breathing.” If you’re doing it right, your belly will rise and air will fill your lungs. Experts say it’s a good idea to spend a few minutes each day breathing deeply. It slows your heartbeat and stabilizes blood pressure. Deep breathing also helps lower feelings of stress.
Mindful deep breathing is when you focus on breathing deeply. To focus on your breathing, find a quiet place to sit or lie down. Breathe in deeply, allowing your abdomen to expand. Hold the breath in for a moment, then slowly release. You can repeat this process for just a few breaths or for a few minutes. Afterward, you’ll feel more relaxed and ready to face the rest of the day.
Some people practice mindful breathing while focusing on a word or image that calms them. Others breathe mindfully during yoga or meditation. Whether you do one of these activities or simply breathe mindfully in a quiet room, you’ll see benefits.
Mindful breathing is great for when you’re feeling overwhelmed or just need to focus your attention. Do you have a big project for school? An important ball game? Are you trying to relax at the start of your vacation? Practicing mindful breathing can help you feel better about any of these events.
How are you breathing right now? When you inhale, what part of your body rises? If it’s your chest, you might want to pay attention. Breathe deeper until you’re using your diaphragm. After all, with all that air we’re breathing in each day, we might as well be using it to its full potential!