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Ever had times when you were so busy juggling different pieces of work, calls, project deadlines, interruptions from friends and family, and suddenly just felt short for breath?

That’s probably because you had really forgot to breathe.

I discovered that in the midst of these things, when I take a minute or three to just close my eyes, breathe in deeply and slowly, slowly exhale, I could feel tensions lift, and things take on a new flow.

One mental image that helps me inhale fully – I picture a wet and flat plastic bag. As I blow into it to open it up, I see the insides of the bag slowly become unstuck from each other. Eventually, the bag is puffed to its max capacity, with no more edges or sides sticking together. This is how I see my lungs after a breathing-in stage. And then I’d breathe out.

When I start a breathing cycle, I aimed for 8 deep inhales and exhales per minute. If I finished my 8 breaths below a minute, I tell myself that I’ve not fully reset my self, and would take another 8 breath-minute. I’d usually get into this comfortably by the 3rd round (or minute). And yes, there are days that require 5-rounds.

Additionally, before I get into a work cycle, I’d do my 3 minute breathing cycles and enter into work with a refreshed body and mind.

I’ve recently dived into Breathe : The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nestor. The author expounds much more into the different breath patterns. Some calm you down. Some activate healing for your body. There was one pattern the author used during running, and that even came with a health warning – I’m not sure I’d try that yet. He also warns of the dangers of mouthbreathing, with practices to overcome that. Always breathe through your nose.

If you want to go further to explore breathing patterns and their benefits, I found a free app on Google Playstore called Breathly by Matteo Mazzarolo. The app includes most of the patterns described in the book, and has visuals, bells and voice settings to pace you through them. It also has one custom setting for you to set your own timing.

So whenever you find yourself stressed and short for breath, remember to breathe.