The Role of Breathing in the Workplace


During a busy work day have you ever stopped and noticed how you are breathing? During a stressful conversation or argument have you ever noticed how tense the body is and how restricted and shallow the breathing is? Do you ever just stop during the day to take a deep breath and clear the mind?

The human body is amazingly resilient with the ability to last a few weeks without food and a few days without water. Take away oxygen and the body only lasts a few minutes. However, since the process of breathing has been happening automatically in us since the day we were born, most hardly give attention to it now.

Breathing is importance in many facets. The most obvious is to supply oxygen to every cell in the body so that our bodies are energized and can function properly. When we are breathing properly the thought process is clearer, digestion is smoother, the muscles are stronger and more agile, and the senses are sharper. When we take a deep breath the body is energized and the muscles relaxed.

What are the things that influence our breathing in our daily lives? Our state of mind and emotions affect the rate and depth of breathing. When we are relaxed the breathing is smooth, deep, and unlabored. Conversely, when we become angered, anxious, or stressed our breathing becomes quick, restricted and shallow. Comfortable clothing allows proper expansion of the abdomen and chest during inspiration and expiration. In addition, our posture both standing and especially sitting can augment or restrict greatly our ability to comfortably breathe.

Here are some tips on augmenting proper breathing in your workplace:

  • Wear comfortable non-restrictive clothing to work.
  • Sit up straight up and slightly leaned back in your chair when at your desk at work rather than hunched over the computer.
  • Allow your legs to be comfortably stretched out on the floor under your desk.
  • If your job is mostly walking or standing avoid leaning over on counters, ledges, or desktops when still.
  • If mostly sitting in your job, stop frequently, stand up and stretch taking 5-10 deep breaths.

Remembering in our fast pace society is possibly the most difficult part of breathing. We are so busy answering phones, seeing the next client, meeting deadlines that we forget about the most natural process of inspiration and expiration. Yet notably when we do stop and literally "take 5" we recenter and are able to come back to whatever process we were previously engaged in with more focus and energy. How can we apply this "Take 5" principle in our daily work lives to help manage the pressure and stress at work?

Try one or all of these 5 things to help you remember to breathe throughout the day:

  • First thing up on arrival sit at your desk, close your eyes and take 10 deep breaths.
  • When the phone rings, take one deep breath before answering.
  • Set an alarm for every 2 hours. When it sounds, stop and take 2 breaths.
  • When someone asks you a question or talks to you, take a deep breath before responding.

Take 5 minutes during your lunch break to practice deep relaxation breaths.

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Thursday, 19 September 2019
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