As human beings, we tend to think little about our natural ability to breathe – until it becomes difficult. After a strenuous run, we’re out of breath and struggle to intake enough oxygen to propel us for the next mile. When we’re experiencing great stress, we feel our breathing become thin or labored. In our lives, we tend to focus on other aspects of our well-being, but breathing is rarely given attention.
Deep, full breathing is a subtle yet powerful habit we can practice every day, anytime, anywhere, to reap significant emotional, psychological and physical benefits. Today we provide you with 8 benefits of taking long, deep breaths.
Benefits Of Deep Breathing
1. Proper Deep Breathing makes you calmer – Proper deep breathing naturally relaxes the mind and body. Breathing deeply is the fastest way to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system (i.e. the relaxation response) which makes you feel relaxed. Stress is at the core of most diseases and most of us live stressful busy lives, which is commonly accompanied with shallow, arrhythmic and hectic breathing.
When we breathe shallowly, the body does not receive as much oxygen as it needs and it makes our muscles constrict. You can almost feel this tightening when you are stressed or tense. The sympathetic nervous system is triggered when we feel stress or anxiety and sends out spikes of cortisol and adrenaline. It is the parasympathetic nervous system which counteracts this and breath is the fastest way for these two systems to communicate. So remember, for as little as ten minutes, practice your deep breathing exercises during the course of the day.
2. Deep Breathing helps to detoxify the body – Our bodies are designed to release 70 percent of its toxins through breathing. Carbon dioxide is a natural toxic waste that comes from the body’s metabolic processes and it needs to be expelled from the body regularly and consistently. It gets transferred from the blood to our lungs and we expel it with our breath.
However, when our lungs are compromised by shallow breathing, the other detoxification systems in the body take over and have to work harder to expel this waste. This overload can make the body weaker and lead to illness.
3. Deep Breathing helps to improve your posture – Bad posture is often directly linked with incorrect breathing. Try it yourself and as you practice breathing deeply watch how you naturally straighten up. Filling your lungs encourages you to straighten your spine and stand or sit taller.
4. Improved energy and mood – One of the most effective ways to instantly boost your energy and mood is to focus on the breath. By adjusting your posture and spending a few minutes taking deep, full breaths, you will increase the amounts of oxygen and feel-good hormones like oxytocin and prolactin that reach your brain. Balance and positivity will be restored.
5. Deep Breathing relieves pain – Mindful breathing can help diminish physical pain, be it chronic discomfort or episodic muscle cramps. Try to redirect your thoughts to the breath, silently saying the words “in” and “out” with each inhale and exhale. Deep breathing releases endorphins throughout the body, which serve as natural painkillers, while the practice of training your mind to find a state of calm amid intense pain will improve endurance.
6. Deep Breathing improves your digestion – More oxygen is supplied to the digestive organs and thereby helping them to work more efficiently. Deeper breathing also results in an increased blood flow, which in the digestive tract encourages intestinal action and will further improve your overall digestion. It addition, deeper breathing results in a calmer nervous system which in turn also enhances optimal digestion.
7. Deep Breathing strengthens the major organs of the body, such as lungs and the heart – Deep breathing expands the lungs and makes them work more efficiently. It also brings in more oxygen to the blood which gets sent to the heart and makes it so that the heart does not have to work so hard to deliver oxygen to the tissues. Also, with the lungs working a little harder pushing out oxygen into the blood it eases the pressure needed by the heart to pump it through the body. This improves your circulation and gives the heart a bit of a break.
8. Deep Breathing helps to regulate weight – If you are underweight, the extra oxygen will help to feed the cells and tissues. If you are overweight it will assist with weight loss. The extra oxygen in the body will help to burn up excess fat more efficiently. When we are stressed, and most of us live day to day in a fairly stressed state, your body tends to burn glycogen instead of fat. Deep breathing triggers the relaxation response which encourages the body to burn fat instead.
Benefits of Deep breathing exercises are very easy to do if you take the time to do them properly. Here’s a deep breathing exercise that you can do at least once a day.
1. Lie down in a comfortable, quiet place. Allow yourself to be free from distractions for at least 5 -10 minutes.
2. Give yourself a moment to start relaxing your muscles. Seek out places that are holding tension and release it.
3. Inhale deeply, filling your lungs with air. Bring the air into your abdomen, not just your chest. Count slowly to five as you inhale.
4. Exhale deeply, emptying your lungs completely. Again, count slowly to five as you exhale. As you exhale, release tension from your muscles.
5. Continue to inhale and exhale deeply for several minutes, counting slowly to five each time. Concentrate on your breathing and counting. Let your mind take a break from distractions.
GENERAL TIPS FOR DEEP BREATHING EXERCISES:
1. If you can’t find time to set aside just for deep breathing, then make a conscious effort to breathe more deeply during everyday living, with a particular emphasis on exhaling completely, which is an important part of breathing properly.
2. Place your hand on your abdomen to feel your way through the exercise. Your stomach should rise and fall noticeably while breathing.
3. Some people find that white noise, relaxing music or the sound of rain is soothing and helps them relax for deep breathing exercises. Others find these distracting and prefer quiet. Do some experimenting to find what helps you relax.
I hope that you found this article on benefits of deep breathing. Feel free to let us know if you incorporate deep breathing into your daily routine, and how it has benefited you in your life. And make sure share this article so even more people can benefit from it as well as subscribe to our Peace of Mind Facebook page for the latest updates on our blog and video contributions.