Breathing 101

This is a page from my forthcoming book, How To Be Happy (Or At Least Less Sad).

I know it looks stupid, because we all know how to breathe, right? But only a tiny percentage of us actually breathe correctly. That's because we don't really need to, as long as we're breathing it's generally OK. I mean, technically it's not OK, because poor breathing is a major factor in many health problems. It's even been said that "one generation of correct breathers would regenerate the race, and disease would be so rare as to be looked upon as a curiosity." But that's another post for another time.

A few minutes of breathing correctly is one of the best things you can do when you're feeling overwhelmed, depressed, or anxious. The key is to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, and to exhale for longer than you inhale. I personally count to 3 as I inhale and 5 as I exhale, but you can do however long works for you.

It's something that doesn't take long, and you can do it anywhere — plus, it genuinely works. It activates our parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the activities that occur in our body when it’s at rest. So next time your thoughts are spiralling or you're feeling anxious, stop for 5-10 minutes and just breathe. As stupid as it may sound, it will help. I promise.