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Can Shallow Breathing cause Stress?

Updated: Oct 27, 2022

Before reading this post, take a minute to examine how you are breathing. Are your breaths long and full, deep from the belly? Perhaps they are short but even, inhaling and exhaling from the chest. Are your shoulders hunched and your stomach pinched or are you sitting tall, with shoulders back?

No doubt about it, as this world gets more hectic and we push ourselves more, our breathing can slowly slip into a shallow chest breath. This can cause stress on our whole body. And when our body is stressed we tend to either hold our breath or take shortened shallow breaths that deprive ourselves of oxygen rich air. The result can be dry mouth - which is bad for your teeth, fatigue makes the day long and difficult or for chronic shallow breathers it can mean progressing to dizziness, confusion and eventually panic attacks.

Be kind to yourself. Throughout your day be watching for signs of shallow breathing like hunched shoulders, stiff neck, chest and lung tightness. Correct your posture, no more slouching down in the chair! This is especially true for students and office workers who spend a lot of time seated. Get up and take that short walk. A change of position can do wonders for your breathing and your mood. Let your body be your guide.

Allow a few minutes each day to practice deep breathing. One way is to lay on your back with knees bent and your head supported and slightly elevated. Inhale through the nose for a count of 3 and exhale through the mouth for a count of three. Gradually increasing the length of your count as your lung and chest muscles begin to expand with practice.

As always, trust your instincts! If something does not feel right, consult your primary care physician or seek immediate medical help if needed. (Content is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.)


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