Why should you try deep breathing?
Deep breathing, is a simple technique you can use anywhere, any time. It involves taking mindful slow and deliberate in and out breaths, and has been found to have benefits for mental and physical wellbeing, including reducing stress and anxiety, improving focus and concentration, and enhancing your overall physical health.
Deep breathing reduces stress and anxiety
Deep breathing has been shown to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
If we experience some kind of stress or anxiety, the body moves towards a 'fight or flight/fear' response, which triggers the release of cortisol, among other stress hormones. Cortisol is known to increase the heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels, which are designed to prepare the body for immediate action.
Deep breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the 'rest and digest' response - the opposite of 'fight or flight' and it is characterised by a decrease in heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol levels.
Using deep breathing techniques sends signals to the body that it is safe to relax and calm down, which then reduces the release of stress hormones. It can also help to calm the mind and promote relaxation, which helps reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
Deep breathing improves focus and concentration
Deep breathing exercises can also help you to improve your focus and concentration. If you're feeling distracted or overwhelmed, it can be really difficult to concentrate. Taking a few minutes to practise your deep breathing can help to clear your mind, as oxygen flow to the brain increases. This can improve your thinking skills, and make it easier to stay focused and be productive.
Deep breathing can help to improve physical health
Deep breathing can also have a positive impact on physical health. Increasing your oxygen intake with deep breathing may improve lung function and increase energy levels. It can also help to improve digestion, as deep breathing helps stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for digesting and excretion of waste, among other things. Deep breathing can help to improve circulation, which has a positive impact on your cardiovascular (heart/lung) health.
How to practise deep breathing
An easy way to start with breath work is to breathe in slowly through the nose, and then blow fully and slowly out through the mouth for a count of 3, and up to 7 breaths, as needed. Place your hand on your belly and feel it expanding and contracting as you take your breaths. You may notice your shoulders dropping and your breaths become slower as your body begins to relax. You can practise your deep breathing anywhere - especially if you encounter a situation that makes you feel anxious or stressed. Give it a try!
Deep breathing is a simple, accessible practice that can have a significant impact on your wellbeing. By reducing the effects of stress and anxiety, improving your focus and concentration, and improving physical health, deep breathing can help to promote a sense of calm, balance, and overall wellbeing.