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‘Happier’ With Dave Flynn

‘Happier’

Breathe

The greatest tool you have to destress is right under your nose

I was truly amazed to learn that each of us takes between 18,000 to 25,000 breaths each day—that’s a staggering number! Imagine what would happen if you could optimise these breaths to help you to feel more relaxed, at ease and in alignment with life? Well you can!!

Like you, I’ve noticed how my breathing changes with my mood. Picture a relaxing evening unwinding with a hot shower or enjoying a lazy Sunday brunch with loved ones—our breaths naturally deepen, slow down, and elongate. This shift signals that our nervous system has entered the ‘rest and restore’ mode (part of the sympathetic nervous system), where our bodies relax and rejuvenate. In contrast, when stress or anxiety hits and we feel swamped, our breathing patterns shift dramatically—it becomes quick, short, and shallow. This is a clear sign that we’ve flipped into the ‘fight or flight’ mode, fueled by adrenaline and driven by the parasympathetic nervous system, often fixating our minds on worries about the past or the future.

This intricate dance between our breathing and our emotions underscores just how powerful our breath can be. It not only keeps us alive but also plays a critical role in helping us feel more at ease, relaxed, and in tune with the present moment—essentially, it helps us to flow through life with greater happiness. Isn’t it amazing that something as simple as breathing, which we usually do without even thinking, can have such a profound impact on our well-being? 😊

HOW ARE YOU BREATHING NOW?

Let me invite you to a little experiment:, While you are reading this, slowly become aware of your breathing, and start to lengthen and deepen it with every inhale. You might have to straighten up slightly to do so. As you start to breathe more consciously, I invite you to think about the last time you felt wound up and overwhelmed —perhaps after a long tough day where nothing seemed to go your way.  Chances are, your breath was shallow in that moment, short and quick mirroring your inner turmoil. 

Now, imagine shifting that anxiety and tension by simply changing the way you breathe, to slow it down, to deepen your breath and signal to your body and your nervous system that all is ok, that you are safe to relax. How you and I breath is such a useful tool to have  that’s always with you. It just requires your attention and conscious focus. By taking a few moments to focus on deepening your breathing, you can guide your body back into a state of calm, telling your brain that it’s time to relax. 

AN EASY WAY I MAKE IT PART OF MY LIFE

When I feel overwhelmed and stressed I often end up doing 5 to10 minutes of deep breathing on a free ios app called ‘Breathing app’. I generally do this while driving on the days that I feel overwhelmed (and ironically need it most!) I rarely can justify the time thus I end up doing it in the car which seems to be the only option! I set it it to a 5:7 breathing ratio, which means that I breathe in for 5 seconds and breathe out for 7 seconds.This helps relax my nervous system and signals to my nervous system that I am safe and it’s ok to relax, I literally feel my shoulders drop and heart rate slow down and the tension that holds me loosens its grip.

This simple act of taking a few deep breaths for a few minutes whenever you need it can be a lifeline in stressful situations, helping you regain composure and approach challenging situations with a clearer mind. I invite you to give it a try next time you’re feeling overwhelmed and watch how it can transform not just your moment, but potentially your entire day.

IT SEEMS SO SIMPLE YET IS FUNDAMENTAL

To me, this simple yet profound technique of conscious breathing isn’t just about managing moments of anxiety—it’s about transforming our everyday life into a more joyful and relaxed experience. If you’re intrigued by the potential of breathwork and want to explore further, I can recommend engaging in activities like yoga, meditation, or even specialized breathwork classes. These practices integrate deep breathing as a fundamental aspect, helping you harness its benefits more fully.

Remember, the powerful tool of conscious relaxed breathing is free and available to you at any moment—whether you’re sitting in traffic, preparing for a meeting, or just winding down at the end of the day. 

I craft each ‘Happier’ column with the goal of offering you practical insights and useful tips. My aim is to explore simple changes we can make in our daily lives that might just make us a bit happier. It’s easy to cruise through life on autopilot, adhering to societal norms without questioning whether they truly serve us. Yet, I believe that both you and I have untapped potential to inspire each other and create a positive ripple effect in our communities. While this might sound a bit lofty, I’m genuinely enjoying this journey and am truly grateful for your time and attention to my writing.

Thank you so much for reading, engaging with, and commenting on my work—your interaction means a lot to me. Through my weekly ‘Happier’ column, I hope to inspire you to feel a little more content and in command of your emotional health. Remember, the most potent tool you have to reduce stress is always right under your nose. Here’s to breathing easier and living a happier life! Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks a mill. Dave.

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3 responses to “Breathe”

  1. Rachel K says:

    Thank you Dave for reminding us the importance of breathing. I’ve been loving reading the columns . Lovely to see the email pop into my inbox when a new one is released!

  2. Zandra says:

    Thank you so much Dave. I really appreciate your Happier column, especially the one about the breath. I am familiar with how it can help us to relax but I can never be reminded too often!!!
    Keep up the great work,
    Zandra

  3. Suzanne says:

    A timely reminder thank you

    Suzanne

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