Why is breathing so effective at reducing stress

January 4, 2022

How to breathe your way to less stress 


The simple act of breathing in and out might seem like such an insignificant thing in life but it is far from it. The benefits of taking slow deep breaths in and long breaths out are incredible. When you breathe, you increase your oxygen intake, which then fills your lungs and then transfers into your bloodstream. The result of this repeated practice is reduced blood pressure, a slower heart rate and most importantly, reduced stress. What other activity do you know that costs you nothing, you can do anywhere and is so insanely good for your body and well-being? 



The ins and outs of breathing techniques

 

Breathing techniques have been around for thousands of years, Early civilisations soon realised just how life giving these exercises really were. Learning how to control your breath in stressful situations can more or less, instantly reduce your stress.


Let’s try a simple breathing exercise now... 

Start by making sure you feel relaxed. Now close your mouth and take a long deep breath in for 4 seconds...feel the air flow into your lungs as your chest slowly rises...then hold it for 4 seconds...then exhale slowly for 6 seconds feeling your breath leaving your body as your tummy flattens. Then hold for 2 seconds before starting another cycle. Breathe in for 4, hold for 4, breathe out for 6 and then hold for 2. The longer breath out is to stimulate our vagus nerve which creates a sympathetic state which leads to a more relaxed you. Continue to breathe in and out like this for 2 minutes or so. Just empty your mind and just enjoy something we all take for granted... every single day...breathing…


The great thing is whenever you feel stressed, you can apply this exercise. Maybe you're standing on a crowded train, or worrying about an important presentation or just finding yourself getting worked up by your naughty little one. Just by controlling your breath and clearing your mind, you can make that big object of stress seem like a mere trifle!


Let’s talk mindfulness 


Once you’ve got the hang of breathing techniques for stress, you can unlock the secret to mindfulness.  The practise of Mindfulness originates from ancient eastern and Buddhist philosophies dating back around 2500 years. Within a mindful practice we basically train our mind to be curious about every aspect of life.  We can encourage our minds to wander down a train of thought and then gently bring our attention back to the present, through our breath.  By doing this we can learn how to reduce stress and to create a more stable enriched centre to our wellbeing.


Take a deep breath- there's more... 


Breathing doesn’t just reduce our stress levels, it also improves our gut health. By keeping a low stress level through breathing exercise, your gut can work more efficiently and not have to send out SOS signals from a fight or flight response in order to deal with the stress. When we are in a fight or flight response, the blood moves from our gut to our muscles, in preparation for dealing with potential danger. This can also interfere with digestion and reduce your energy levels.  But by breathing techniques we can quickly get stress under control and so stop your gut from going into overdrive. Effectively saying to your gut, “Don’t worry, false alarm! Everything’s cool and dandy”.


So breathing really is the answer to stress


So now, we hope you can see how breathing is the answer to controlling your stress. It brings better focus, a calmer state of mind and keeps your body from going into meltdown. You should try and practice this breathing practice most days so that when a stressful situation suddenly shows it’s ugly face, you are ready to take a deep breath and show stress the door.


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