Did you know that breathing has a HUGE impact on your overall health?
You could be the “fittest” person🏋🏾♀️in the world,🌎 but if your breathing sucks…well that will only lead to problems and complications later on in life.
The way you breathe🌬has a huge impact on your stress levels.
Why you ask?
your breathing is deeply connected to your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems that regulates the release of hormones and neurotransmitters.
Now that you know why your breathing is super important, let’s look into more examples as to how it is connected to your stress levels.
Your Heart Rate❤️ Is Connected To Your Stress Levels
According to the UC Davis Health Sports Medicine, these two systems control the rate at which your heart beats.
Your heart rate is connected to your stress levels:
- The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) releases the hormones (catecholamines – epinephrine and norepinephrine) to accelerate your heart rate.
- The parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) releases the hormone acetylcholine to slow down your heart rate.
There are other hormones and neurotransmitters that are released including cortisol, testosterone, and adrenaline.
When you are stressed out, your breathing accelerates and becomes shallower.
Stress is your ‘fight or flight’ response system.
It turns on when your brain thinks that you are in danger and need to either fight👊🏾 or run.🏃🏾♀️
Your body does not know the difference between certain kinds of stress like work stress or financial stress.
Stress is stress to your brain.🧠
When you are relaxed, your breath deepens🌬and your heart rate lowers.❤️
This correlation works both ways, slowing your breathing will make you less stressed and vice versa.
The key🔑 is to make sure that when you are relaxing, you are able to breathe in as deeply and fully as possible.
There are a few ways to do this…
Either through abdominal breathing or equal breathing.
Right now, you are probably breathing “wrong.”
Many of us do not pay close attention to the way we breathe and as a result, we are probably not getting the proper amount of oxygen into our lunges.
To find out if you are breathing incorrectly, place one hand on your chest and one on your stomach.
Now breath normally and notice which hand moves first and whether both move at all.
What you might find is that the chest moves first and the stomach moves ever-so-slightly afterward.
Unfortunately, this is the wrong way to breathe and it won’t allow you to bring in as much oxygen as possible.
Instead, you should allow your stomach to distend, which will, in turn, open up the abdominal cavity.
Then breathe in so that your lungs are filled and then move your chest.
This not only allows you to bring in more oxygen, but it also trains your transverse abdominals and encourages proper posture.
If you look at a baby👶🏾🍼 or an animal,🐶🐱 they breathe in deeply.
This is how they breathe naturally, so what went wrong for us?
It comes down to posture and the fact that you may spend a lot of time sitting in front of your laptop, TV, in a car, at a desk, etc.
And not just sitting normally in front of these things, but rather hunched over cutting off the flow of oxygen.
It sounds super uncomfortable huh?
Trying to remember to breathe properly or even have better posture is not easy to do which is why mindfulness is so valuable.
You can use it to practice better posture since you have to sit up straight, chest up shoulders back and down.
You most importantly use mindfulness meditation🧘🏾♀️ to improve your breathing.
During actual meditation, you will want to breathe as deeply and as efficiently as possible.
One way to do this is to use something called ‘equal breathing’ from yoga.
This kind of breathing involves counting the seconds🕰 for both the inhalation and exhalation making sure that they are equal.
Ideally, you are trying to breathe in and out for a good 3-5 seconds or more.
This will allow you to completely fill and empty your lungs refreshing all of your vital organs as well.
I usually perform this kind of breathing🌬when I am in a stressful situation or a stressful situation is beginning to rise.
By breathing this way during this time, it gives me a sense of relief (quickly) and it gives me a minute to collect my thoughts and come up with a better plan of attack.
When stress and anxiety comes at you when you are most vulnerable (like when you have to prepare for a very important meeting or your manager calls you in to talk about a very expensive,💰 time-consuming project🕰that needs to be completed in a week, etc) it is good to have ways to get rid of that stress fast so that it does not disrupt your peace of mind or your day.
Once stress interrupts your day, it can be hard to recover from it.
I have had my fair share of stressful days and moments in a day.
Usually, if I do not have a good handle on my stress, I shut down or instantly get an ocular migraine.
These kinds of migraines can be very debilitating and it DEFINITELY is for me!
I am usually down for the count until a day or so later.
It can be pretty bad…
If you suffer from migraines (ocular or a different kind) I recommend getting the Origin Sensory Therapy Peace of Mind On The Spot Relief.
What this does is it helps to relieve headaches and migraines quickly.
A little goes a VERY long way.
I usually massage💆🏾 this anywhere I feel pain…so the back of my neck, my temples, on the ridge of my nose and on my eyebrows (I do not recommend putting this near your eyes even if you are experiencing pain their because your eyes👀 WILL water for days…yes I am speaking from experience🤦🏾♀️).
Anyways, equal breathing is a great technique that can help you regain control of your situation by just breathing!
Quick 5 Minute Breathing Exercise 🌬
Now that you know how breathing fully and deeply can help you relieve stress quickly, I am going to show you a quick breathing exercise that can help you relieve stress quickly.
Breathing deeply 🌬not only relieves stress, but it also calming and helps to re-energize you.
Slow, steady, and quiet breathing gives a message to your nervous system to be calm.💆🏾
Let’s get into this quick 5-minute breathing exercise!
(Read through the instructions several times before you try this exercise.)
1. Sit with your spine as straight as possible. Use a chair if necessary, but do not slump into it. Place your feet 👣flat on the floor with your knees directly over the center of your feet. 👣 Use a book or cushion under your feet if they do not rest comfortably on the floor. Place your hands are on the tops of your legs.
2. Gently close your eyes. 👀
3. Now begin to breathe in slowly.🌬
4. Feel your lungs filling up with air, your ribs begin to expand up and out.
5. Now empty your lungs fully, feeling your ribs move back down and in. Do not push your breath out. Exhale out gently.
Try to do this exercise for about 2 to 3 minutes and upwards to 5 to 10 minutes a day.
This is (in a way) a mini meditation session.
Whenever you feel stressed out or anxious, remember this exercise and continue doing it until you feel calm and relaxed.
To Wrap Things Up…
Breathing correctly allows you to relieve stress and be able to take a step back to look at your current situation with a new perspective.
You also get to bring fresh life-giving oxygen to your vital organs so that they run better.
Use these breathing exercises at the start of your mindfulness meditation or at the start of your day and it can help you to become more relaxed and focused.
It will also help you to improve your breathing in the long term.
No more short shallow breathes!
To breathing correctly,
P.S. – If you enjoyed this post on how What Breathing Correctly Can Do For You, remember to like, share, and comment below.
P.S.S.-For even more ways to relax, check out my ’11 Ways To Relax’ blog post!