Our breath is one of the only involuntary functions in our body that can also be voluntary. It becomes voluntary when we pay attention to it, by breathing slower or faster, deeper or shallower, or holding our breath. Breathing is a great tool for helping us relax and it is always accessible and always free!
3 Benefits of Deep Breathing
1. Through attending to our breath, we can calm our entire body. Physiologically, through the practice of deep breathing, we can slow our heart rate and lower or stabilize our blood pressure, helping us to feel calm and relaxed. Our parasympathetic nervous system is engaged with deep breathing and this helps calm our entire body down. (source)
2. Deep breathing helps clears the body of toxins. When we breath fully, our bodies are flooded with fresh oxygen and carbon dioxide is released. Oxygen energizes us and stimulates the flow of endorphins, the body’s natural pain reliever. If you observe an infant or young child breathing, you might notice that their tummy rises and falls as they breath. As adults we often lose this full “belly breathing” and instead breathe shallowly only into the tops of our lungs, which adds to feeling stressed and anxious. By bringing our focused attention to our breathing, we can practice utilizing our whole diaphragm to take deep, cleansing breathes that promote relaxation. Our organs are massaged as our diaphragms move up and down, increasing the bloodflow and flushing out toxins.
3. By taking deep breathes, we can deactivate the body’s stress response, also known as fight, flight, or freeze. From the beginning of our existence, our brains always have been interested in our body’s survival. In ancient times, the fight or flight response proved invaluable for survival, especially when wild animals lurked in the shadows. But today, this primal response continues to occur, for both real and perceived stressors.
While this response is helpful when we need to swerve to avoid hitting a car or as a first responder to an emergency, most of the time it is not needed. Stress today often looks like constantly being connect to work through our smartphone, financial worries, or fights with loved ones. Our bodies are responding to these modern day stressors as if our very life is being threatened, and it is producing stress hormones that are contributing to a host of health problems. By attending to our breath often, we can deactivate the body’s natural stress response, stop the production of toxic stress hormones, and regain the calm we need to be productive and focused. (source)
In summary, there are many benefits to deep breathing. We can decrease our heart rate and stabilize our blood pressure; flush the body of toxins and increase endorphins; and deactivate the body''s stress response, preventing toxic stress hormones from wreaking havoc on our bodies. So take advantage of this free stress reliever today!
Is deep breathing not enough for you? If you are located in the Twin Cites, call 651-605-6022 today for a free consultation or to schedule an appointment for counseling. Or fill out the form here.