Benefits of Deep Breathing

Take a deep breath…and read on to find out the many mental health benefits of deep breathing.

It’s no coincidence that focusing on the breath is a fundamental part of meditation and yoga- both practices which are known to reduce stress and lead to a more calm and peaceful state. This calm state in which deep breathing plays a significant role can, according to research, reduce stress, anxiety, and depression symptoms, and it can increase focus, and improve sleep.

So do we have to meditate and do yoga with deep breathing, in order to attain these benefits? Not necessarily.

Deep breathing can be done right now, right where you are. You could be at the office, on the subway, waiting in a doctor’s office, or sitting in traffic. All you need to do is take a deep breath in, allowing your heart rate to quicken slightly…and then a long exhale, which causes your heart rate to slow down. By continuing to breathe this way, your heart rate will eventually slow down and become more in sync with your breath…and just like that, your brain will release those feel-good endorphins we all love. Leading you to feel calmer, clearer, and more at peace.

And get this, the effects of deep breathing are not only mental, but they’re also physical as well. Studies have shown that by practicing deep breathing on a regular basis, through yoga, meditation, or just as part of your day- you can experience the following physiological benefits:

  • Relaxed Muscles
  • Reduced Blood Pressure
  • Mild Weight Loss
  • Improve Quality of Life In People With Asthma and COPD
  • Reduce Tension to Help With Headaches
  • Relieve Some Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Reduce The Number and Severity of Hot Flashes
  • Improved Circulation
  • Increased Energy
  • Improved Immunity
  • Better Digestion
  • Helps support and correct posture

Sound too good to be true? It’s not. And the science proves this. 

When we become stressed or anxious, our brain releases the “stress hormone” known as cortisol. Though cortisol is a necessary part of our bodies, too much of it can exacerbate anxiety, and tension, and lead to feelings of irritability, stress, and frustration. That being said, by taking a few deep breaths in and out, our heart rates slow, and more oxygen is able to enter our bloodstream- which communicates with the brain and lets our mind and body know that it’s ok to relax. This relaxation response plus the additional endorphins produced can help create feelings of calmness, and well-being, and can even combat pain.

So how do we get started with deep breathing exercises? And how often do we need to do it to experience the benefits?

According to the health experts at the world-renowned, Cleveland Clinic, a simple way to practice deep breathing in your home, office, car, bathroom, or wherever you feel comfortable taking a few moments for yourself- is the following:

  • Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose:
    Keep your shoulders relaxed. Your abdomen should expand, and your chest should rise slightly.
  • Exhale slowly through your mouth:
    As you blow air out, purse your lips slightly but keep your jaw relaxed. You may hear a soft “whooshing” sound as you exhale.
  • Repeat this breathing exercise.
    Continue to breathe in and out for several minutes until you start to feel more calm and relaxed.

Is it really that simple? Yes.

So take a minute or two today for yourself, and deeply breathe your way to better health.

If you’d like to learn more about different deep breathing techniques and give them a try, please check out the following link.

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