How To Use Breathing To Love Yourself

You have so many people telling you that you should love yourself, and you're like "yeah, I'm down--I would love to stop hating myself..where do I start?"

Yet, no one really gives you that starting point. Or they tell you "you just should".

Leaving you like "Yeah, I know. If I knew how to stop hating myself I would. SHOW ME HOW!"

I think self love is easily thought of things like:

-Buying new clothes

-Getting nails done

Pampering yourself is definitely a way to spend time on yourself, but self love goes deeper than that and I want to teach you a way in which you may not identify self love...but in reality, it actually is!

Breathing

This one may sound a little bizarre to you, but taking the time to focus on your mental well being and knowing how to go from anger, stress, fear and worry to a sense of calm is truly one of the most magnificent ways you can show your body love. 

 You can stop, drop and breathe anywhere, anytime. Like at Lululemon, ya know. Wherever.

You can stop, drop and breathe anywhere, anytime. Like at Lululemon, ya know. Wherever.

 

What You Need To Know So This Isn't As Weird To You

I'd venture to say more than 50% of the world are chest breathers. Meaning as they inhale, they raise their chest, exhaling quickly. Longer breathes, exhaling to a four count or more are ideal, and what we want, as this sends signals to the brain telling it to turn up your parasympathetic nervous system, and turn down you sympathetic nervous system.

The sympathetic nervous system controls your flight or fight responses. You experience that flight or fight response when you're in a situation like being attacked, or a bear is running after you. But when this happens, your breathing speeds up and your heart rate increases, also increasing your stress inducing hormones like cortisol to begin rushing through your body. In a scary situation this is fine, but if this happens when your boyfriend doesn't text you back fast enough--then we have an issue. Go ahead and test this out. Put one hand on your heart and take 5 super quick breathes--this is what happens in that fight or flight response.

Your parasympathetic nervous system on the other hand controls your inner sense of peace, calm and relaxation. Your blood pressure lowers, your breathing is more in control and you get into a place where rest and digest can happen calmly.

Making It Practical

2 years ago I was so anxious I never even wanted to leave my house. Talking to strangers made me feel sick to my stomach. I didn't even like ordering my own food. Going to family events with my ex-husband even gave me extreme anxiety because I didn't like doing family games and what not at holiday parties. You can imagine what this does on a marriage and just life in general. Being so anxious I would never go out with friends, or really even have friends. 

Then there was my body, oyy...my body. I lived in a place of worry constantly. Did I eat good enough? If I eat this will I still look okay? I'm only a size SIX? I can't let people see me. Will people like me? I hate myself. I hate my body. I'm not enough. I will never be enough.

My dad saw what I was doing, or lack there of, he told me to breathe. I laughed, thinking "LOL please shut up. Breathing won't help me calm down." Don't worry, I didn't actually tell him this, I was just thinking it. I told him I would and never did.

He would print articles and send me emails and each time I saw something about breathing I'm like really? What is it with this man that he thinks breathing will help me?

My Dad Was Right

I hope you're reading this, Dad.

I remember after my husband and I separated that I needed a job outside of SCR to help me survive as a single mom. I went into this interview terrified. I needed this job, I was so nervous I wanted to walk out. Had this job not be dependent on my livelihood and feeding my son, my anxiety ridden self 98% sure would have walked out. 

So I sat there, wanting to throw up, and I began to focus on my breathing.

I remember through half ass reading one of my dads emails, that I should put one hand on my chest as to be aware of not beginning my breathe through my chest. So I laid one hand on my chest, and one on my belly.

I began to breathe in through my nose, as I did so, making my belly big and on the exhale, breathing out through my mouth on a slow 4 count.

Well what do you know, my dad was right. That breathing shit actually worked (I texted him this).

It brought some calm to my mind, it allowed me to be present.

Oh, I got the job..only to later quit when I got my dream job coaching.

How Breathing Has Helped Me Love Myself

I understand you may still be a little weary of how breathing can help you love yourself. Let me break it down a little bit.

If you're anything like the old me, you may get stressed when you think someone is talking about you, when a car cuts you off, when your boyfriend breaks up with you (valid reason for sadness), when you're late, when you have a bill that needs to be paid etc. 

I get all of those things, truly I do. In these moments of stress, our mind is solely focused on the past or future. Never the right now. The present. There is no calm in the mind that can't be here, right now.

Choosing to be more powerful than you've allowed yourself to believe will work magic in your life. 

Choosing to breathe, slowing the mind down, calming down that fight or flight response will allow you to have a mind open to growth, love and change.

In my anxiety ridden days, self love was never once alive in my body. I was constantly worried and stressed about my body.

Now?

  • I breathe before a first date to calm my nerves. 
  • I breathe before I met or talk to a new client on the phone
  • I breathe when I miss my son and feel like my heart is crumbling
  • I breathe when I'm afraid I'll be late to work
  • I breathe when I walk into a new gym for the first time and I'm afraid I'll mess up

This simple practice allows my mind to be clear, or at least more clear than it was before. Having a clear mind, allows me to be more present in my body instead of focusing on how I use to look like, or how I want to look. I can be me, as I am, working one day at a time walking into a sense of radical self love.

How To Do Basic Belly Breathing (Diaphragmatic breathing)

  1. Begin laying on your back with your knees bent on a surface. Ex: Back on the ground, knees laying on the edge of the couch (you can do this standing up or sitting down--laying down just allows you to feel things a little bit more.)
  2. Lay one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest.
  3. Inhale through your nose as you make your belly rise. Breathing in on a count of 4.
  4. Once you get to 4, exhale to a count of 4 as well, lowering your belly, breathing ALL of the air out.

Begin with just 3-5 deep breathes. Do it when you're stressed, or anytime at all. 

We begin with teaching this breath work laying down, but it can be done in any position. Laying down is simply easier to learn at first.

What do you say? Give breathing a time next time you feel fear, worry, stress, anger, sadness or anxiety.

More posts on breath work to come!

Sharing all my breathing methods on instagram through December using #SCRbreathingthroughit. Follow along and upload your own breathing pics with me :)

Still have questions on breathing? Comment below!