How to use breathing exercises to focus and concentrate better

If your brain focus has been poor lately or you’re in a constant struggle to concentrate on one task, it’s time to take a breather.

No, really.

Taking a moment to focus on your breathing can help.

When you’re anxious, distracted, or impatient, your breathing becomes more shallow and restricted. As a result, less oxygen flows into the body. Breathing deeply will get the oxygen flowing into your body and other organs once again, all of which are crucial to performing mentally-challenging tasks.

Recent research has also shown the positive effects deep breathing has on our stress levels. Pranayama breathing or yogic breathing is a similar technique practiced by yogis to create a sense of calm and shift the awareness away from whatever is bothering the mind.

Obviously, not everyone is a yogi so you may not know how to do these breathing exercises properly. To enjoy the same yoga concentration as these practitioners, just follow these guidelines for doing breathing exercises.

1. Try the 4-7-8 Method First

There are many ways to breathe deeply but this is considered to be the most optimal method for improving focus and attention because it relaxes your muscles and calms your mind.

Start by inhaling through your nose, counting to four; you should feel your belly expand as it fills up with air. Hold it for seven seconds and then release by exhaling through your mouth for a slow count of eight. Repeat until you feel relaxed. Focus on the air filling and leaving your body as you inhale and exhale.

If you find this breathing pattern too hard, don’t worry. Everyone has different rhythms. It takes some experimentation to find out what pattern works best for you.

Start with what you can and gradually increase the seconds the better you become at it. 4 to 8 seconds of breathing in is often good enough. Then, exhale twice as long as you inhaled. This forces you to focus on your breathing pattern and the present, and letting go of whatever bothered your mind earlier.

Try doing this at least two times a day as a habit. Even a few minutes will do. Doing it more helps you know what breathing patterns, durations, and times work best for you.

2. Focus Better By Breathing Longer

If you’re a more seasoned breather, you can lengthen the breathe by adding a second as you inhale and then exhaling twice as long. Prolonging inhalation has an energizing effect that will wake you up while extended inhalation helps release stress and anxiety. However, don’t go more than 8 seconds when attempting to breathe in longer. You can only get so much energized throughout the day.

3. Watch your Breathing Pattern

Your breathing patterns can change throughout the day depending on what situation you’re in. Sometimes, you won’t notice these patterns change so it’s important to be aware when you’re feeling anxious, frustrated, or stressed.

When the body feels stress or alarmed, it tends to take shorter, faster breaths in preparation for the perceived danger nearby.

Overtime, the body adapts to shallow breathing as a result of prolonged stress. And since it’s not getting the optimum oxygen supply, cognitive abilities start to go wack. This explains why you can’t concentrate and get distracted very easily.

It helps to know what triggers your stress and anxiety. When you catch yourself feeling this way, acknowledge it and shift your focus to breathing deeply until you feel calm again.

4. Ignore the Chatter

Not just from the outside world but in your mind as well. When you do your breathing exercises, make sure it’s in a quiet space where no one can disturb you, even your cubicle will be good enough.

Begin by breathing in slowly through your nose and exhaling through the mouth. Focus how your body feels as you take each breath. If a thought comes to mind, whether it’s stress-inducing or petty, ignore it.

Let it pass without judgement, and focus on your breathing again. It’s good meditation for focus and concentration since your deep breathing forces you to be aware of what’s going on in your body instead of what’s on your mind.  

In Conclusion

There you have it. Your basic guidelines for using breathing exercises to get better concentration. It’s free, easy, and simply one of the best things you can do for your mind and body everyday. The next time you find yourself distracted or feeling anxious, don’t forget to go back to these breathing exercises.