Breathing is something that we do automatically every minute of every single day. We can’t live without it. You may also notice that your breathing reflects what is going on in your life. A person who is sick may find it difficult to breathe. A person who is stressed or anxious may breathe faster and take shallow breaths.
On the other side of the coin, some people use breathing to exert control over particular body processes. Deep breathing techniques can do a lot of good. What are some benefits of deep breathing, and why does it work? We are going to discuss some deep breathing tips to help you cope with the stressful world that we live in today.
What Benefits Come from Deep Breathing?
From diet to exercise to supplements, before we change our habits, we need some convincing that it will benefit us. Let us begin by considering some of the benefits that deep breathing can provide.
- Manage stress
- Slow heartbeat
- Reduce blood pressure
- Coping mechanism for anxiety
- Improved lung function
Those are things that we all either want or need. However, you are probably wondering how taking some controlled breaths can have such a significant impact on the body. Let’s look at the biology behind breathing to get the answer.
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How the Lungs Function
As you breathe, the diaphragm expands and contracts to allow your lungs to fill with oxygen, release it into the bloodstream, accept carbon dioxide, and then exhale it. Unfortunately, when breathing is shallow, the longs don’t stay as flexible. The diaphragm may need the help of the chest, back, and neck muscles to get the air in and out. You may even begin a buildup of air inside your lungs. This leads to even shallower breathing and increases the problem gradually over time.
Deep breaths allow the diaphragm to do its job correctly. The lowest part of the lungs fill, allowing them to maintain proper elasticity. You get more oxygen to your bloodstream. You also get rid of more toxins through exhaling. The overall result is improved lung function. How is this process connected to all of the other benefits noted above?
Managing the Fight or Flight Response
When you are in danger, your body produces a stress response to help you survive. Your heart rate increases, blood pressure goes up, muscles tense, and so on. All of this is in response to hormones that get released into the body, such as adrenaline and cortisol. However, when your body stays in a heightened state of stress, problems start to occur. Blood pressure and heart rate can remain elevated. Muscles remain tensed.
You don’t need to have the same reaction to unexpectedly high credit card bills as you do when a car is headed for you as you cross the stress. However, this is how the body tends to react to anything that causes stress, even if there is no imminent danger. Deep breathing gives you a way to slow things down and take control. This can include stress, anxiety, and other natural bodily responses to emotional stimuli.
The best way to understand the benefits of deep breathing is to experience them, so let’s get into a few techniques you can try for yourself at home the next time you feel stress building up.
Deep Breathing Techniques for You to Try
Here are a few deep breathing methods you may want to try.
- Coherent breathing – The goal with this type of breathing is to breathe in and out five times per minute. This is optimal for heart rate and for the function of the parasympathetic nervous system. Breathe in for a five-count and out for a five-count. With about a second in between breathing in and out, this will equal five breaths per minute. Alternatively, you could try breathing in for four seconds, holding it for four seconds, and out for four seconds.
- Belly breathing – This breathing method is easiest if you are sitting or lying down. To make sure you perform the exercise correctly, keep one hand on your chest and one on your belly. When you breathe in slowly through your nose, make sure that you allow only your belly to expand. Your chest should not move. Breathe out through your mouth.
- The 4-7-8 technique – This is another breathing technique that focuses on timing, but it results in even slower and more focused breathing. In this case, you breathe in through your nose for four seconds, hold it for seven, and then breathe out through your mouth for an eight count. It takes some practice, but even just the focus it takes to breathe like this should help you to clear your mind of any worries.
These are just a few ideas on how you may be able to cope with stress and improve your overall health using deep breathing techniques. Of course, there are also supplements that can support your efforts to reduce stress levels.
Reducing Stress Hormone Levels Naturally
Breathing deeply is one way to reduce your fight or flight response. Taking an ashwagandha supplement may prove beneficial as well. In studies, taking ashwagandha daily reduced cortisol levels for some participants. If you would also like to try this natural method for reducing stress hormones, please check out the Warrior Strong Wellness shop. Our Pure Organic Ashwagandha Max supplement may be just what you are looking for to help you get stress levels under control.