This New Year should be the year of ‘Speaking Slow’.
Given that it looks like we will have another year before we will all have received the COVID-19 vaccine and we can return to the new normal, I would like to see a post-COVID world where we all become more mindful and speak more slowly. There are huge health benefits to this and it easy to achieve.
As a breathing practitioner, I have observed that the majority of people breathe incorrectly when speaking. I wonder if this is a 21st-century problem as we feel under pressure to get to our point quickly?
As technology allows us to access information at light-speed I wonder if the ‘listener’ is becoming more impatient and the ‘speaker’ more pressurized to complete what they are saying as quickly as possible? When you next listen to radio shows or TV interviews, consider if you agree with me and also observe how the ‘speaker’ is breathing. I have also noticed that interviewers seem to try and hurry people along to make their point as quickly as possible. We seem to have less time for people to pause, accentuate, and embellish their story and to paint a literary picture that we all find entertaining. For me, when listening to people, less is more and the more adjectives the better!
Nasal breathing when speaking is really essential to prevent a COVID-19 infection. Our nose provides us with an amazing filtration system that will trap and eliminate 98-99% of unwanted particles and micro-organisms such as bacteria and viruses, including the coronavirus.
If mouth breathing whilst speaking, any micro-organisms that are present, will be drawn directly into your lungs. In addition, when nose breathing, our sinus cavity releases a colourless gas called nitric oxide which is toxic to all micro-organisms. This is part of our natural defence mechanism which switches off if we start mouth-breathing. (See my previous blog on how we can increase nitric oxide production.) Our nose is a more effective filtration system than a face mask and we should all be nose breathing and wearing a face mask when appropriate. If you wear a face mask and mouth breathe, you are still increasing your risk of infection.
Really take the time to observe if you are breathing through your mouth or nose when taking a breath. If you discover that you are breathing through your mouth when speaking, the best way to switch to nasal breathing is to pause more regularly when speaking for a breath and speak slowly. Speaking slowly and clearly will also ensure people will fully understand you and you will discover that you are repeating yourself less often.
Slowing down gives you more thinking time and nasal breathing will supply your brain with an additional 18% of oxygen. You may discover that, not only do you stay healthy but additionally your spoken word becomes more interesting to the listener as you become more expressive and descriptive.
Breathe slow and speak slow and give people time to express themselves.
Why not make this your new year resolution?
Happy New Year.