We breathe an average of about 20,000 times per day without even thinking about it. Yet a growing number of health experts contend that most of us do it poorly, depriving ourselves of energy, mental focus, and emotional resilience.

How can that be?

via PixShark

If you’re like most people, your breathing consists of short, shallow breaths that keep you functioning throughout the day but don’t cause your diaphragm to fully contract and fill your lungs completely. So while you may feel like you’re getting plenty of oxygen, you’re really not, and that keeps you from performing at your best.

How can that be? Your lungs are designed to deliver precisely the amount of air to maintain your bodily functions and keep your internal organs operating. In our sedentary society, most of us adapt our breathing to meet this bare minimum requirement. But what this means is that there is little oxygen left over for more complex functions like mental focus, emotional control, even creative thinking.

The good news: You can change it in an instant. Here’s how:

First, check the status of your breathing by placing one hand on your stomach and the other on your sternum (the long, flat bone located in the center of your chest). As you breathe, the hand on your stomach should move significantly more than the hand on your sternum, signaling that your lungs are filling.
Second, learn a simple technique called Box Breathing, which, if your breaths have been shallow, will flood your lungs with oxygen and produce immediate positive effects, like tension release, increased energy, and emotional control. In a moment, you can change your physiology, making you feel more alert and energetic.

Isn’t it amazing how something as simple as changing the way you breathe can improve your performance? For a quick Box Breathing tutorial, check out this video by former Navy Seal Mark Devine.

And here’s a challenge: Practice this simple technique 5 to 10 times a day for the next seven days, then send me your feedback — I’d love to hear about the changes you experience!