Just Breathe...

With every book that I read, I am constantly looking for instantly actionable, take-home messages. Looking for the nuggets of wisdom that the author wants us all to consume, digest, and implement. Sometimes it takes some digging and sometimes they beat you over the head with it. Either way, these nuggets are the reason that I read!

Over the weekend, I finished Digital Minimalism, and the take-home message was pretty simple there. Try to minimize the amount of time that you spend using technology, and instead focus on maximizing the limited amount of time that you spend on technology and using the previously "wasted" time to strengthen your real-world relationships and skip the Facebook fights.

After finishing Digital Minimalism, I decided that the next book that I wanted to crack open was a book called Breath by James Nestor. To be fair, this kind of book is right up my alley. I love learning about all the seemingly little things that we can do to improve our health and the overall quality of our lives. Especially, they are often taken for granted. We all know how to breathe, right? Do we though? Do we really know how we are supposed to breathe properly?

Much like my favorite book of 2020 (Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker) this book explores a basic function that is required for humans to live. We all breathe in and out all day long, with little to no thought as to how the process works. Have you ever wondered if you were breathing properly? Ever wondered if there is a better way to breathe? 

Did you know that the average human takes approximately 20,000 breaths every day? And there are health consequences that can be attributed to breathing in the wrong manner? Imagine if you decided to 20,000 squats every day... Now, imagine that you were doing them WRONG for all 20,000 repetitions! Just imagining that makes my knees hurt! It is crazy! This one basic function of our lives is taken for granted by the majority of us every day.

Just like last week, I am about halfway through this book. There are already a couple of take-home messages that are worth sharing! First and probably the most important is that there are some significant health benefits to breathing primarily through the nose, rather than through our mouths. I think that we have all heard that at one point or another, but Mr. Nestor explained in depth the positive benefits of nasal breathing. First, the nose, and more specifically the cilia in it, filter out all types of allergens. Limiting those allergens can help limit respiratory issues. Breathing through our mouth also has a significant negative impact on our sleep, and often leads to increased snoring and sleep apnea. (And we ALL know how important quality sleep is!)

Another immediately actionable take-home message is to SLOW DOWN. There has been quite a bit of research that shows breathing slowly helps us to remain relaxed. Lengthening the exhale phase of breathing can assist with treating anxiety by stimulating the parasympathetic (think rest and digest) nervous system. 

We have talked about just 2 of Mr. Nestor's suggestions, but you may be wondering how can you make them part of your routine. I was able to make them part of my routine, by trying to make the changes during my meditation every day and when I get a chance to sit still and focus.

Over the next couple of days, I challenge you to try to make some of these changes! You never know what the outcome might be! 

Movement is my medicine,

Dr. William "Chip" Bleam

Dr. William "Chip" Bleam


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