Breathing is the essence of life; no breath no life. But we often overlook this vital bodily function because it's something we do unconsciously.
It's not until our breathing is hindered that it starts to come into our conscious state of thinking. When we exercise, our heart rate increases and our breathing is put to work.
So how can we concentrate on our breathing to improve our day-to-day life functions? It all starts from the moment you get out of bed.
A great morning ritual to adopt is breathing as soon as you wake up. When you open your eyes, try and take five deep breaths. With each breath, aim for a three second inhale, hold for three seconds and finish up with a three second exhale.
Research by Harvard University found that deep breathing is a great tool for slowing down your heart beat.
"Deep abdominal breathing encourages full oxygen exchange — that is, the beneficial trade of incoming oxygen for outgoing carbon dioxide. Not surprisingly, it can slow the heartbeat and lower or stabilise blood pressure," suggest the findings.
Breathing patterns will also help avoid "distracting thoughts and sensations."
It'll usually take a week for this routine to become more natural but once it does, don't be surprised if you have that extra bit of energy at the start of the day.
Even Men's Health cover star Travis Boak uses breathing to manage the pressures of top-flight footy.
Breathing and Visualisation
Another tool that works well with breathing is visualisation.
Many athletes will use the two to help them perfect their form or relieve nerves. But the process can be applied to any situation that might trigger stress: a big race, public speaking or even exams.
Here's an example of how you can apply the two:
Picture a heavy object. Now picture yourself lifting that heavy object, with perfect technique, utilising correct breathing to engage and contract the right muscle groups.
The important part is to go through the motion as slowly as you can in your mind. This will help avoid triggering any stressful moments and keep your heartbeat from raising.
Further, a study out of the US found that participants who visualised their weight training saw bigger increases in muscle strength than those who didn't. The research was aptly named: 'From mental power to muscle power -- gaining strength by using the mind.'
The best thing about breathing and visualisation is that it's not just limited to the sporting elite or high-pressure situations. Apply this stress-relieving activity to other situations in your life: whether it's your career or conflict.
Day-to-day life will always bring tough situations. By following simple breathing practices, you'll be able to stay calm and collected, even during the most stressful situations.