We do it every day, mostly without thinking about it. This is a good thing because if we had to think about every breath we take it would take up a lot of our attention and energy.
Breathing is of course vital to get oxygen into the body and for the removal of carbon dioxide. But how we breathe also influences our nervous system. If we inhale quickly and shallowly and exhale quickly or if we hold on to our in or out-breath our body will be more tense and we feel more stressed.
If this happens to you then paying attention to how you breathe is the first step, and noticing how everyday life situations affects your breath is key. Luckily our breath is not just automatic but we can change how we breathe.
To get into better breathing habits take some time to sit or lie quietly, allow yourself to relax and notice each breath in and each breath out. Notice the length and depth of each breath and where in your body you feel it. You may notice that each breath is a little different. During the day you can bring your attention back to your breath each time you get more stressed or busy and see if you can come back to a more relaxed way of breathing. Make sure you never force this, rather allow your breath and yourself to relax.
One myth to expel is breathing from our diaphragm. We all breathe using our diaphragm as it is the main muscle that steers breath. Also breathing from your belly is not necessarily better. It is good to be able to both breathe into your belly and into your chest so you have a system that can be flexible and adapt to changes.