Evaluating the quality of your breath is not easy, even if being aware of it is important to understand our degree of well-being. Breathing well also means being in harmony with yourself, listening to your body and having a certain degree of relaxation that helps the oxygenation of the tissues. Despite this, breathing remains an autonomous function of our organism: thanks to the neurological system, in fact, everyone has the right rhythm within himself or herself to breathe, without thinking of having to do so. Dr. Francesca Puggioni, pneumologist at the Center for Personalized Medicine: Asthma and Allergology in Humanitas, spoke about how to breathe correctly.
Do you use the diaphragm? Check if you lift your shoulders
Correct breathing derives above all from correct use of the diaphragm. The use of this organ, completely natural if we are relaxed and lying down, can be more difficult in those who are overweight or when we are in positions that are not particularly comfortable. “To understand how we breathe it may be useful to stand in front of the mirror with the chest uncovered, so you can observe the movements of our chest and see how you can breathe with the upper part of the abdomen and how you breathe with the chest – explained Dr. Puggioni. We will then see the diaphragm that lowers and rises to allow the lungs to expand, and then how the chest opens outward to allow the lungs to expand. It is also necessary to control the movements of the shoulders; because often when you do not have optimal breathing you use “accessory” muscles to compensate.
What happens when we are anxious?
“When we are in a state of anxiety or tension we may experience a feeling of difficulty in breathing, from mild discomfort to the so-called hunger for air. In these cases it is advisable to stop first, not panic, and check the rhythm of breathing – advised the specialist. This happens because, ancestrally, our organism in conditions of tension is led to prepare for danger, stiffening all the muscles to strengthen them. Today we no longer apply this mechanism on a physical level, but we act on the psyche, therefore we block the respiratory muscles holding the breath in an unconscious way and consequently we breathe badly. Bad breathing, especially in the case of tension, is often accompanied by dizziness and mental confusion. “Our brain in fact needs oxygen to perform its functions in the best possible way: however, agitation leads us to breathe at a much faster rate than normal, thus storing more carbon dioxide that makes our ideas less clear and affects brain performance.
Finding the natural rhythm: these are the beneficial activities
The natural rhythm is 12 breaths per minute: deep breaths in which we breathe through the nose and slowly exhale from the mouth, this allows you to oxygenate the brain well,” advises Dr. Puggioni. It is important to emphasize how there can be a link between a state of anxiety and bad breathing, because it is not easy to keep calm if you have the impression that there is a lack of breath or if you have difficulty breathing as usual, but respiratory problems should not be underestimated and should be considered as such, without labeling the patient as anxious and as such treat him. The specialist will therefore make a correct diagnosis, aimed at excluding or ascertaining the presence of respiratory problems, before attributing the cause of poor breathing to a state of anxiety. In general, practicing yoga, Pilates, tai chi or martial arts is particularly indicated for those who have respiratory problems or for those who have a strong emotional side that alters the rhythm of breathing, because these disciplines allow you to become more aware of your own breath and thus work on effective breathing”, advises the specialist.