With all the chaos and things happening in the world, it’s common to feel worried or anxious. I’m already a very anxious person, so the current Covid situation has certainly made things worse. I’ve found it harder to concentrate when working from home, with random anxious thoughts about paying bills and rent. 

However, anxiety and stress doesn’t get us anywhere. It’s counterproductive and eats away at your productivity, especially if you’re working from home. Anxiety makes it harder to concentrate and much easier to forget things.

The good thing is that you don’t need expensive virtual therapy or counselling sessions to get you through this tough time. Your breathing holds the key to better focus and productivity, and you won’t have to spend a penny on it.

Biologically, it makes sense, because breathing is what delivers oxygen to your brain, and oxygen is what gives us the energy to feel alert and awake. That’s also why we yawn when we’re tired. Our brains are trying to squeeze in as much oxygen as possible when it’s feeling drained.

This is also why techniques like mindfulness meditation are so popular among busy professionals. The key to successful meditation basically revolves around good breathing. Proper breathing makes you feel rejuvenated and lifts your mood, almost like a spa day for your mind. 

I was surprised at how much more focused I was by simply sitting with the right posture and breathing correctly. I was able to keep working for longer periods of time, and I was yawning less! I felt like a burden had been lifted off my chest with just a few minutes of good breathing. Most importantly, I was also able to fall asleep without random thoughts distracting me. 

So, how can you breathe to improve concentration and alertness? Here are a few techniques and strategies that worked for me to improve my breathing. 

Breathing Technique to Improve your Focus

One of the most effective and quickest breathing techniques to instantly bring you to focus in my opinion is called box breathing.

Box breathing is a type of deep breathing that quickly relaxes your muscles and slows down your heart beat. With your body in a physically calm state, you’re able to easily concentrate on a task.

  1. Begin by inhaling slowly to a count of 5.
  2. Hold on to that breath, again until a count of 5. 
  3. Slowly exhale to a count of 5.
  4. Repeat this for 5 to 10 breathes.

You can read more about the benefits of box breathing here.

Other Tips for Better Breathing

Here are some other tips that go hand in hand with improving your breathing:

  • Sleeping: The position you’re lying in also affects how you breathe, much like posture when seated. Ensure your pillow is comfortable and your neck isn’t strained or awkwardly placed, otherwise it will obstruct the flow of air during breathing.
  • Posture: Posture has some effect on breathing. If you’re seated with a hunched back, you’re going to be busy focusing on the back pain it’s causing you. So, sitting up straight will make it easier to focus on breathing, and concentrating on the task at hand.
  • Humidity: As humans, we breathe best when the air we breathe is warm and humid. If it’s cold and dry, our breathing is more strained. Consider getting a humidifier for your room when you’re sleeping or working to ensure that the air isn’t too dry for breathing.
  • Hydration: Having a dry mouth and throat is also not the best for good breathing. Our bodies use the mouth and throat to ensure that the air isn’t dry when we breathe in. So, drink plenty of water and stay hydrated. 
  • Weather: Warm and humid air is great to a certain extent. If the weather is extremely hot and humid, it presents other problems as well. Usually hot weather is accompanied by more dust and pollution, for example. So, to account for this, you should check air quality indices for places or ensure your place has a good ventilation system.
  • Nasal breathing: The reason why breathing through your nose is considered healthier is because our noses are better equipped at filtering air. Mucus and hair helps to trap microscoping dust or other particles, so that you don’t breathe it in.

We often underestimate the role of breathing in pretty much everything we do. Breathing properly is key to better concentration, better sleep and even better singing! The key to better breathing also depends on other factors like air humidity and proper hydration.