The problem with every breath you take…

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This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a blog post about the power of breathing for writers…

Have you ever had anyone tell you to take a deep breath? I thought so!

But breathing for writers is an especially important issue. As I’ve noted before, many of us suffer from writing apnea, a condition in which we’re concentrating so hard on writing, we forget to breathe!

My concern about this problem caused me to pay extra attention when I recently discovered a Psychology Today blog post under the counterintuitive headline, Do Not Take a Deep Breath.

Written by clinical psychologist Inna Khazan, a faculty member at Harvard Medical School, the post argues — convincingly — that carbon dioxide helps improve the intake of oxygen to our bodies. Here’s how Khazan describes the situation:

“Carbon dioxide is crucial to the distribution of oxygen. Without sufficient carbon dioxide in your bloodstream, the oxygen that is circulating in your blood does not get released in sufficient quantities, and your brain, muscles, and other organs become deprived of oxygen. Not good!”

Her advice? Breathe low and slow. Here’s how she describes the process:

  1. Shift your breath from your chest to the belly
  2. Take in a normal-sized comfortable breath (there is no need for a big breath)
  3. Exhale as slowly as you comfortably can, allowing your exhalation to be longer than your inhalation
  4. Do not rush to the next inhalation; let your body inhale for you when it’s ready

Breathing for writers is a habit worth focusing on. If you’re not breathing effectively, you’re more likely to feel anxious and stressed — two qualities that will not help your writing one iota!

An earlier version of this post first appeared on my blog on Jan. 13/20.

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