Sadly, we’re bombarded with multiple stress-inducing factors on a daily basis. From incessant pressure at work to responsibilities at home that never seem to end, life is hard.
That said, stressors don’t have to be small things that build up over time. They can also be one big life event that comes out of nowhere and turns your world upside down.
Whichever way stress burrows into your life, the problems of dealing with it are the same. Luckily, one technique that’s proven to be successful at managing stress is deep breathing. This calming technique has many benefits besides lowering stress levels, such as improved blood flow and helping you sleep better.
So, keep reading to discover how deep breathing can make you healthier, stronger, and less anxious.
What Is Deep Breathing?
Deep breathing is a technique used to help you achieve inner peace and a sense of calm. The whole point of deep breathing is that it allows you to breathe through your abdomen, rather than the shallow breathing we typically do through our chest.
What abdominal breathing does is help control the nervous system by reducing the release of stress hormones. Thus, it encourages the body to calm down and relax, decreasing anxiety levels.
Consequently, this enhances your overall well-being. Deep breathing through the abdomen also prevents various illnesses and conditions, like high blood pressure, obesity, and Type-2 diabetes.
Moreover, deep breathing helps you focus more on what you’re doing. So, rather than make rash decisions, you can take your time to think things over.
How Does Deep Breathing Work?
Deep breathing allows you to boost the amount of oxygen in your bloodstream. Having more oxygen means your cardiovascular system works double time.
Then, as soon as your brain detects this substantial amount of oxygen in your system, it responds by doing several things. The first of these things is that it reduces the concentration of stress hormones. So, as a result, you calm down, and you become less stressed.
Follow these steps to perform basic deep breathing exercises:
- First, put your right hand on your abdomen near your navel.
- Next, place your left hand on the center of your chest.
- Some people find it helpful to close their eyes, so you can try that and see if you feel comfortable.
- Inhale and exhale fully a couple of times to shift from chest to abdominal, or diaphragmatic, breathing.
- Next, inhale deeply while focusing on the rising of the abdomen as the lungs fill with air.
- As you do this, it should cause your belly to expand about an inch.
- Then, slowly let out your breath.
- While exhaling, most of the movement should be in the area underneath your right hand. Your chest should only move slightly.
- Each time you breathe in and out, focus on how you feel.
- Repeat anywhere from 5–7 times.
Benefits of Deep Breathing
When you’re calm and relaxed, you breathe through your nose and take slow, even breaths. But then, something stresses us out, and our ‘fight or flight’ response kicks in.
This is when our breathing becomes more rapid and shallow to increase our oxygen supply. More oxygen means more blood rushing to our extremities, allowing us to run for cover or fight for our lives.
Yet, in today’s modern world, we neither run nor fight. Instead, we create this imbalance of oxygen and carbon dioxide that has no way of escaping, which affects our health and well-being.
Here are a few physiological benefits of controlled, deep breathing:
- Lowered heart rate and blood pressure
- Reduced build-up of lactic acid in muscle tissue
- Stronger immune system
- A boost in physical energy
- Reduced levels of stress hormones
- A renewed blanched of oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the blood
- Increased feelings of calm and relaxation
Deep Breathing Tips and Tricks
Here are some tips and tricks you can use the next time you’re using the deep breathing technique to help you reverse your stress responses and feel calmer.
- The trick to going from chest breathing to abdominal breathing is those first two full exhalations.
- Pushing out the air from the bottom of our lungs creates a vacuum that will allow you to switch to abdominal breath on your next inhalation. Next, pause for a second or two before inhaling slowly.
- The recommended breathing is through the nose. Yet, it takes a while for some people to get used to nostril breathing. So, in the meantime, you can breathe through your mouth until you’re more comfortable.
- Avoid taking more than five deep breaths. More than five breaths make most people feel light-headed. If this sounds familiar, take 2–3 breaths at a time to avoid feeling giddy or off-balance.