The Importance of Breathing

Shannon Tavis, LMSW

Over time, humans have evolved to be shallow chest-breathers. However, this is NOT best way for us to
breathe. Engaging your diaphragm (the muscle in your stomach) while breathing in and out can make

the world of a difference with multiple areas of our day-to-day life. You may have heard to take deep
breaths when stressed or anxious, and this is great advice, but you do not have to be under distress to
gain the benefits of this breathing style.

Diaphragmatic breathing has been shown to improve depression and anxiety levels, reduce cortisol
levels (which can help with regulating weight), lower blood pressure, better quality sleep, and improved
energy levels.

There are lots of ways to practice this breathing style, but the easiest is to sit up straight with your hand
on your stomach and pretend there is a balloon in your belly. When you breath in, pretend the balloon is
filling with air and puff out your stomach as you slowly and deeply inhale. Before you immediately let
the air out, hold onto that air for one full second. Holding your breath before exhaling stimulates your
Vagus nerve which physically slows your heart rate and makes you feel calmer. When you do exhale, pull
your diaphragm in (pretend your pulling your belly button toward your back). Again – remember to do
all of these steps slowly and deeply. Here is the outline below:

 5 second inhale (slowly with diaphragm being pushed out)
 1 second hold
 5 second exhale (slowly with diaphragm being pulled in)


Regular practice of this breathing style (every day for at least 5 minutes if possible) will lead to the above
health benefits. You can do this breathing practice while in traffic, right before bed, or while sitting at
your desk. There is no wrong time to practice!


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the value of quiet

We need to slow down, calm down, and reset.

Our fingers scroll and type a mile a minute. Our mouths do the same. Our eyes are constantly looking for new stimulation. The busy brain is steadfast and unrelenting. All ages are impacted by the quick pace of life in the 2020’s. Many of us have adjusted and keep up with the world around us. 

But do we remember a time when we had to wait for commercials while watching a show after school? Or needing to wait for our sister to finish her soccer practice. When we had to see which neighbor was outside ready to play because they said they’d be back after they ate dinner!

Our kids are no longer patient. They no longer sit with feelings, waiting for their turn with the video game remote. Their minds preoccupied and stimulated constantly. There are so many reasons why we should encourage a purposeful slow down each day, even if it is for 5 minutes. This could be a mindfulness app, or paced breathing in the car, or journaling for ten minutes before the bedtime story.



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Ways to settle down

MIndfulness Apps (ex. Calm, Stop, Breathe, Think


Journaling/ Bullet Journals

Breathing Practice

Using All 5 Senses