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The Health Benefits of Deep Breathing

Stress – It’s Human

If there's one thing that we do understand as humans, it’s stress.
 
What are the things that stress you out? How often do these situations occur and how severe is that stress when it happens?
 
The American Institute of Stress has detailed information about what causes stress. A great way to start is to understand what causes yours. We’ve compiled advice from Harvard scientists and personal experience.
 
We want to share with you a shockingly effective technique to lower your stress. All you need to do is allow yourself to breathe.

The Power of Deep Breathing

Yes, we get it, everyone breathes. Yet, the kind of breathing that relieves stress is different than the kind that allows you to live. Harvard’s Health Publishing Journal claims, we are often limiting our breath due to beauty standards: ie. holding in the stomach muscles to avoid “releasing the belly”.

This strain does not allow for the full benefits of diaphragmatic (or deep) breathing.

The article states another major reason for our inability to take advantage of deep breathing. That is a lack of mindfulness or not being present and aware of our breath in the first place.

When deep breathing is achieved it has proven benefits for our health:

“Deep abdominal breathing encourages full oxygen exchange — that is, the beneficial trade of incoming oxygen for outgoing carbon dioxide. Not surprisingly, it can slow the heartbeat and lower or stabilize blood pressure.” – Harvard Health

How to Take Advantage of Deep Breathing

One of our favorite techniques is a simple one.

The 4-7-8 technique is very effective and easy to do. It's coined by Dr. Andrew Weil from the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine.
 
The technique is simple, all you need to do is sit up straight and relaxed. Now, breathe in a 4:7:8 ratio where you inhale for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7, and exhale for a count of 8. You can adjust the timing as needed. But make sure that the ratio of inhales to exhales stays the same.
 
This ratio has proven to be a "natural tranquilizer" for the human nervous system.
  
Prescription drugs are less effective with time and tolerance. But this technique only gets stronger with time and practice. Its creator recommends you try to do this at least twice a day.
 
Need help getting the hang of deep breathing before bringing this practice into your daily routine? We have an even easier method:
A GIF that says: "if you have anxiety, take deep breaths in sync with this" above a moving image of geometry to the pace of deep breaths for a typical human
  

This also works for those suffering from stress or an inability to relax otherwise

 

Whether you may be experiencing anxiety or stress, doing this for a full (uninterrupted) 5 minute period can drastically reduce the stress you feel.

Try to assess your stress level before you practice breathing and compare it with how you feel afterwards. Bonus points if you’re able to measure your heart rate! This can give you some concrete data to compare.

By practicing the timing of your breathing in accordance with this dynamic image and others like it on the internet, you can bring deep breathing into your daily life with very little effort.

 

A woman facing nature with her arms open wide
  

Proper breathing techniques are quite literally a breath of fresh air

Replacing a Habit

 

If you tried this exercise you likely noticed a tangible benefit to your mind and body. Great! If not, ensure you are following the animation above and try again in a few hours. Be sure to clear your mind and focus on breathing!

If you smoke or vape, you may notice that deep breathing has similar relaxing benefits. The e-cigarette you are hitting feels like it is reducing your heart rate, blood pressure, and stress levels, but it could just be the activity or behavior of deep breathing itself.

Ask yourself, is the only time that you’re deep breathing when you’re smoking or vaping? If that’s the case, try to mimic that deep-breathing habit without a cigarette or vape and compare the levels of satisfaction you experience

The science is clear, your body is able to de-stress naturally when you focus on breathing.

Here are some more healthy ways you can practice inducing the body's natural relaxation response according to Harvard Health:

 


Do you have another great way to cut stress naturally? Let us know in the comments below!

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