Deep Breathing vs. Shallow Breathing

A common misconception that many people have is that deep breathing is good and shallow breathing is bad. The only criterion for correct breathing is whether or not your chest is as still as possible and your belly is moving in and out, pumping the air in an out of your lungs (diaphragmatic breathing ). The reason for this is that chest breathing introduces large amounts of adrenaline and sugar into your system, which causes your heart to beat rapidly resulting in a loss of physical and mental control. 

However, there is a time when chest breathing is effective. And that is when you are doing any kind of cardiovascular activity, such as jogging or dancing because in these instances the accelerated activities neutralize the adrenaline in your system. So although adrenaline is very necessary when doing high-energy activities, adrenaline production that is not accompanied by vigorous physical activity will certainly trigger the rapid heartbeat that leads to intense anxiety and a failed presentation.

Today’s exercise: How to Move Your Belly

The purpose of the following warm-up is to help you feel how your abdominal muscles move in preparation for correct belly breathing.

  1. Sit in a chair in a quiet room. Place both feet on the floor.

  2. Put one hand on your belly and the other on your chest.

  3. To the count of five, slowly and gently pull your belly in. (Do not pull in tightly.) As you do this, keep your chest as still as possible.

  4. Hold this for three counts. (Think: “1-2-3.”)

  5. Slowly release the belly to the count of five (do not move your chest) and take a small breath.

  6. Do this three times. Place your hand on your stomach, and feel the abdominal muscles in your belly. Tighten and relax. 

  7. Now put our hands in your lap and practice breathing like this for a count of twenty, rest and then do this again three more times. Practice this routine two times each day until your brain is familiar with this new method and you are more comfortable breathing this way.

  8. Use this technique five minutes before your next presentation.