“A broken heart is the worst. It’s like having broken ribs. Nobody can see it, but it hurts every time you breathe.” – Unknown
DON’T FORGET TO BREATHE
Often, I’d lift a substantial amount of weight and hold my breath on instinct. My coach would yell at me, “Don’t forget to breathe,” as my face turned beat red. I’m not sure why it was difficult to remember how to breathe in those instances.
Perhaps, it’s a subconscious attempt to slow my heart rate. Many of the Olympic lifters at the gym would do something similar. They would take a large breath then do their lift and finally, they would exhale. This is called the valsalva maneuver and it can be dangerous.
Maybe, those lifters perform the valsalva maneuver subconsciously. Breathing is an involuntary action; it’s so much a part of life that we probably don’t even realize when we aren’t breathing. But with our breath comes life. We need to breathe; we need oxygen to survive.
HOW TO BREATHE
Most people have very shallow breaths and this is often referred to as chest breathing. But humans are meant to be belly breathers. When you take a belly breath, you should see the rib cage expand then the belly extend. Belly breathing is also referred to as diaphragmatic breathing. Don’t let the name fool you though because even chest breathing requires some use of the diaphragm.
When you are belly breathing, you allow for more oxygen to enter your body. According to NASA, the air we breathe is composed of a mixture of gases which is mainly 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen (at sea level). With a shallow breath, you are not allowing for as much oxygenated air to enter your lungs which is why chest breathing doesn’t really help lower your heart rate. For this reason, Mike Clancy, a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, believes that people should focus on breathing properly when they exercise.
So how do you breathe? Well, air should be inhaled through your nose and exhaled through your mouth. This allows for oxygen to enter your lungs while also filtering out other things such a dust and pollen.
IF I JUST BREATHE
When I’m finishing up with an intense workout, I practice different breathing techniques to help regulate my breath and lower my heart rate. I’ll inhale through my nose until I can’t possibly inhale anymore and hold for about two to three seconds, then I’ll slowly exhale through my mouth. When I exhale, my teeth are closed and I make a “sssssss” sound until it feels like all the air has left my lungs.
It lowers my heart rate in record time because my body isn’t working so hard to get the oxygen it needs. Another thing that I like to do is lay on my back with my knees bent and feet flat on the floor. One hand will lay on my chest and the other on my belly. I’ll inhale and exhale to ensure that I am breathing effectively. It seems to calm me down when I’m panicking or stressed. It’s like Michelle Branch’s song, Breathe:
“If I just breathe
Let it fill the space between
I’ll know everything is alright
Every little piece of me
Everything is alright”
Yoga is also an effective way to learn breathing.
So here I am…the naked cow rising in the morning and inhaling a breath of fresh air. When I exhale, I’d maneuver my body into the cat position…but I felt the cow was a more humiliating position to be in.
Right now, even a simple task as breathing takes the life force out me. I hyperventilate as I cry from a broken heart.
People say, “Just breathe and relax.” But how can you relax when you’re in pain? It’s not necessarily a physical pain, but an emotional one and sometimes, that sort of pain is harder to live through.
I’m hurt, but I’m trying. Right now, I’m focusing on me and trying to prioritize my mental health as it’s tanked. It’s almost as though, my mental health is even worse off than before I met Sir. I feel empty and depressed. It’s not just a darkness and internalized pain because if I felt that it would be better. What I feel is a void so big that it’s beginning to swallow my world whole.
The days are long and lonely. I’ve lost the one person that I’ve shown all the deepest and darkest parts of me to. So the priority isn’t to find anyone knew. My priority is to learn to breathe on my own again.
For more information on breathing, check out XPT Life.