Do I really have to breathe?

Menna Migbar

We have come a long way. One day we got sent back home in the hope of returning to school. But without knowing it, we normalized learning and interacting with our friends through a screen. And before we know it, we are back at regular school with fresh and exciting minds, and let’s now forget that we are all two grades above now. How crazy, right?

As my freshman self slowly adapted to become an organized sophomore student two years before, my junior self is now trying to acknowledge the new school life.

Speaking of school, how has returning to in-person learning been for you? It is perfectly okay to feel a little exhausted as we transition from staring at the screen to moving from one class to another and interacting more. But as we approach the evening or when you are at home studying, do you ever notice yourself sighing more? Personally, I really sigh more often these days! I don’t even do it intentionally, but it makes me realize that something is running through my mind that needs to get done or that I am exhausted.

One may ask that other than getting work done, is there any other option to escape this stressful situation? Yes! Believe it or not, the act of breathing is a perfect medicine for your brain.

We are all familiar with yoga and meditation. Something they have in common is breathing. As we all sigh, we are exhaling air, but let’s do it in a way that benefits our brain!

Now, if you can, I want you to sit up straight and focus on a thought that makes you stay in the moment. For me, it can be about the voices I hear in the room I am in or how blank, white and plain the wall is in front of me. Something simple that won’t overcomplicate things. Closing your eyes can help you focus and gather your thoughts more, but that is your choice. To start, inhale as much as you can through your nose until you feel your chest widening to its maximum. Believe me, it felt awkward when I first tried this, but you will get used to it. After slowly inhaling for about 3 seconds, hold it for as long as you can; 10 seconds would be great! Then slowly exhale. We want to exhale as much carbon dioxide as we can from our lungs to fill it with fresh oxygen. It can be hard to believe and practice, but exhaling from anywhere between 11 and 13 seconds completely refreshes you. 11 seconds can seem a lot, but there is a trick to it. Pretend like you are a balloon. When exhaling, feel your stomach contract as your lungs tighten up and get rid of carbon dioxide. Yes, it can feel tight, but the second you finish, you feel brand new.

You can repeat this as much as you want, but a suggested minimum is three times. The best part is that you feel less pressured immediately.

In addition to breathing, you are mindful of your state while doing this exercise. You can feel the air movement through your nose and your body contracting and relaxing. You can also observe simple thoughts inside your mind peacefully. Do it with the intention to clear your mind and start anew!

This simple exercise has helped me so much, especially while studying, and I hope you try this and see the results!