Feeling stressed and need a quick and effective tool to help you relax? Here a few of the ways that deep effective breathing can trigger a relaxation response in your body, and help you feel at ease and refreshed.
Deep breathing means breathing in for the count of four, and out for the count of eight. Don’t worry if you can’t manage the count of eight to start with. Begin with four or six, and you will soon be breathing out for the count of eight.
- Deep Breathing feels good!
Did you know that breathing correctly releases endorphins, a hormone naturally produced by your body whose name literally means “morphine produced within”? Your body is able to create this amazing hormone that can reduce pain, promote relaxation and create a feeling of well-being, meaning that you can quickly and effectively reduce your stress and anxiety.
- Deep Breathing can allow your body to rest.
It’s not always easy to sleep when you’re feeling stressed and uptight. Using deep breathing can help you get more rest. It can help you reach a state of deep relaxation that make it easier to slip into sleep quickly, meaning you can maximise the amount of rest you can get. Sometimes all you need is to slow your mind! Breathing exercises are an excellent way to meditate, easing and even stopping the mental chatter that causes so much anxiety, stress and restlessness. Just a few minutes each day of practicing deep breathing can have deeply restorative effects on your emotional, mental and physical state.
- Feel energized and alert
Just as certain breathing exercises can promote deep relaxation and slow our minds, so other practices can provide quick bursts of energy. Breathing will not take the place of healing, restorative sleep, but it can really help when you need a quick pick me up. When you need a simple effective boost, why not try this simple exercise :
Sit up straight on a firm chair. Relax your whole body, remembering to maintain good posture to allow your diaphragm room to expand.
Start by taking a deep breath, allowing your lower back, sides and stomach to relax and expand.
Imagine your breath is like water filling up a large glass, from the bottom up.
Once you can’t breathe in anymore air, hold for two seconds, and slowly release.
Repeat for 10 breaths.
- Deep Breathing can help control your stress levels
It is well known that high stress levels can have a very negative effect on your health by exhausting your adrenal glands, and keeping high levels of both adrenaline and cortisol in your body. These hormones, responsible for the fight-or-flight response, increase your heart rate, raise your blood pressure and, most importantly, slow functions deemed “non-essential” in a survival situation. This means that both your digestive system and your immune system are suppressed, while blood flow is directed away from the surface of the body.
Breathing deeply and effectively can have the opposite effect, and can even counteract the harmful effects of stress on your body. By activating the parasympathetic nervous system, breath slows down your heart rate, reduces your blood pressure, promotes relaxation and improves digestion.
- Deep Breathing can give you more efficient lungs
Consistently practising deep breathing can help you maximize the efficiency of each breath, bringing more oxygen to every cell in your body, helping you feel energised and awake.
- Deep Breathing can boost memory
Stress and anxiety can really play games with your brain. Breathing exercises can help ease the ill effects of this in a couple of ways. First, slowing down the mental chatter using breath as a simple meditation can really help you get a handle on life.
The second way breathing can help is by sending more oxygen to the brain. The brain is believed to use a large amount of all the oxygen in your body, despite making up a tiny amount of your total body weight. As the blood becomes more oxygenated, more oxygen is available to the brain. Brain function is boosted, meaning increased concentration, clearer thinking, a greater capacity for learning and decision-making, and who doesn’t need that!.
- Deep Breathing helps with emotional balance
We mentioned how breathing can help with endorphin (happy hormone) production, support relaxation, promote clearer thinking, and it can even be used to meditate. All of these benefits add up, allowing you to take a step back and relax, giving you space to deal with all the things life can throw at you. Deep Breathing can’t stop the stresses and strains of everyday living, but it can help you to deal with them, to feel more relaxed and at ease, and enjoy a more peaceful state of mind.