Take a Deep Breath Instead of Lighting a Cigarette. Part 3

by on Jul.19, 2012, under Tobacco

Fill your lungs all the way to the top of your shoulders, then exhale in the opposite order that you inhaled: first, emptying the top of the chest, and finally pushing out the last bit of air from the bottom of your lungs with your abdomen. Your exhalation should last longer than your inhalation, from six to 12 seconds. This is called “complete diaphragmatic breathing.”

You should begin to notice a nice shift in feeling within five deep breaths. The reason that oxygen is such a powerful mood modifier is because it can both energize and relax the brain. The brain is an “air feeder,” and just as a nice meal can help us to feel satisfied, nurtured and relaxed, so can a few deep breaths nurture and relax the brain.

A stumbling block to using breathing as a tool to help you tackle your tobacco habit is hyperventilation. Hyperventilation is the condition that results from having more oxygen in your blood than you are used to handling. With practice, your tolerance for oxygen will increase, just as your tolerance for nicotine and smoking increased.

You can tell that you have hyperventilated when you experience dizziness, a slight feeling of uneasiness, or see spots in your visual field. The remedy for hyperventilation is simple: Use up the oxygen by doing a few vigorous movements such as walking around, or thrusting out your arms.

If you have been a heavy smoker, breathing exercises can help your lungs clean out the tar and other gunk from your years of smoking. If you experience coughing when you practice your breathing, remind yourself that this is really a good thing. You really need to get that nasty stuff out of your body, and coughing is how your lungs clean themselves. Be sure to keep some tissue and a glass of water handy to help you recover from a bout of coughing. The coughing will pass, and soon you will just take in that wonderful, life-giving air that your lungs were really meant to use, without any problems.

You can also use your breathing as a tool for craving management. I used breathing exercises when I quit my two-pack-a-day habit, and I owe my success to their effectiveness. Every time I craved a cigarette, I started to take gentle, full breaths. I rarely had to take more than five breaths before my craving would start to ebb. The nice thing about breathing is that you can do it everywhere!

Ideally, following your breathing exercises, you should feel a deeper sense of relaxation and well-being. Using proper breathing techniques can inspire your motivation to change your tobacco habit and your resolve to achieve your goals for your new, tobacco-free self.

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