Why Deep Breathing Reduces Stress

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.

Sources:

http://www.npr.org/2010/12/06/131734718/just-breathe-body-has-a-built-in-stress-reliever

http://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases_conditions/hic_Understanding_COPD/hic_Pulmonary_Rehabilitation_Is_it_for_You/hic_Diaphragmatic_Breathing

http://www.healthcentral.com/anxiety/c/1443/156561/breathing-helps/

http://www.onepowerfulword.com/2010/10/18-benefits-of-deep-breathing-and-how.html

 

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “Why Deep Breathing Reduces Stress

  1. David Tyler Bond

    This blog is very helpful, especially for college students who are easily stressed out. In one of my classes last week, my professor brought in a guest speaker from University Health Services who spoke to us about stress and how to manage it. Deep breathing was one technique that she mentioned that reduces stress levels greatly. Here is the rest of the techniques that University Health Services at Penn State recommend to reduce and manage stress.

  2. Sarah Elizabeth Pettoruto

    I will have to start doing this when I get stressed with my school work! This was a great post because, like you, people always told me to take a deep breathe when I am overwhelmed but I always shrug them off. It is reassuring to know that this technique actually helps. I have also tried yoga and it has actually helped me become less stressed! Also, going along with your physical stress statement, this was effective even when I did cross country. When I was getting nervous or stressed during a race I would take a deep breathe. Great post!

  3. elb5372

    This article was a lot of help considering the amount of stress that accompanies the work load of college. Normally I just go for the, ‘break everything in sight’ technique to relieve stress but after reading your article I suppose I’ll give deep breathing a try. If this is something that alleviates stress, then I am all for giving it a shot!

Leave a Reply