Very often when I’m feeling stressed or anxious, people will tell me to take a deep breath. This statement used to bother me. I never thought that taking a deep breath would solve my problems, and being told to do so irritated me. However, once I began to really try deep breathing, I noticed a difference in how I felt. I cant say that it takes away my problems, but it certainly helps me to feel a bit more relaxed. I was so surprised to find out that it actually had an effect on me, and I began to wonder how and why.
According to an article on NPR, the way we breathe affects our hearts, brain, digestion, and immune system. While there are scientific reasons which explain why certain breathing techniques are good for your health, there have been other explanations and practices in the past. The article discusses ancient Indian traditions involving yoga and breathing. Pranayama, the Indian yoga has been taught in hospitals in order to provide healing for patients dealing with pain and disease. The techniques in this form of yoga allow for breathing patterns that can make the person feel light headed, and then energized. Research has shown that following breathing techniques like the ones used in pranayama can alter the pH in the blood and change blood pressure. When the blood pressure is lowered, there is less stress on the blood vessels which lowers stress levels.
It has also been said that diaphragmatic breathing, another breathing technique, can positively affect the body systems. According to an article on the Health Central website, our diaphragm flattens when we are stressed and we begin to breathe shallowly, which raises our stress level even more. Learning to recognize this and then change your breathing pattern is an important step in reducing stress. When we are able to practice diaphragmatic breathing, our stress levels will decrease because it allows more oxygen to flow through the body.
There are more benefits to deep breathing besides simply alleviating stress. Deep breathing also releases physical stress. When we breathe deeply, our muscles loosen up and we feel more physically relaxed. Deep breathing forces the diaphragm to push on other organs which increases blood flow. Breathing deeply also removes carbon dioxide from the blood while adding oxygen to it, which greatly increases the quality of the blood.
So next time you’re feeling stressed or just want to improve your over all health in any way possible, don’s neglect the power of deep breathing. The benefits go beyond just relieving stress, but also have physical improvements.