The Importance of Deep Breathing
We all have to breathe. It is a given. I have to say, I love breathing and I'm always telling people at work to "breathe." I tell people to breathe because for the most part, people come in to my office with racing thoughts, can't concentrate, and they are verbalizing a buffet of information that no one could fathom putting in order. So I stop them and ask them to breathe. When we take a deep breath in, we regroup, refocus, ground, and center ourselves. Deep breathing is one of the most powerful and cheapest forms of therapy.
When you watch a baby laying down in its crib, you see that the baby's belly goes up and down. Babies belly breathe. Adults? Not so much. But we are supposed too. As people grow older with age, they usually let the cares of the world bog them down they become shallow breathers. Shallow breathing can lead into some issues for people such as higher anxiety, elevated blood pressure, and maybe even cardio issues. Deep breathing seems unnatural to many but it should be a normal thing. Today, I am going to cover why it is important to deep breathe.
1. Deep breathing helps us stay sane. When we deep breathe, endorphins are released in the body. What are endorphins you ask? Endorphins are our feel good pain relievers made by our own bodies. So when you are full of anxiety, fear, or panic, simply take 60 seconds to simply breathe in deeply for 5 seconds and exhale for 5 seconds. Do this for about a minute. Your body will begin to relax.
2. Deep breathing helps relax the muscles. When we breathe deeply, it allows oxygen to fill our bodies. Our bodies require oxygen to function. When we get scared, have anxiety or panic, our muscles tend to tighten up. They tend to tighten up more when we shallow breathe. So we deep breathe to pour oxygen throughout our bodies.
3. Deep breathing can help lower blood pressure. When we breathe deeply, our muscles relax which helps the blood vessels dilate which helps blood pressure fall.
4. Deep breathing massages the organs. The movements of the diaphragm during deep breathing massages the stomach, small intestine, liver, and the pancreas. The upper movement of the diaphragm also massages the heart.
5. Deep breathing strengthens the immune system. When we engage ourselves in deep breathing, oxygen travels through the bloodstream by attaching to hemoglobin in the red blood cells. This ensures your body to metabolize nutrients and vitamins.
6. Deep breathing improves the nervous system. The brain, spinal cord, and nerves receive increased oxygenation and are more nourished. The oxygen improves the health of the whole body since the nervous system communicates to all parts of the body.
7. Deep breathing strengthens the heart. Deep breathing leads to more efficient lung usage which means more oxygen is brought into contact with blood sent to the lungs by the heart. This means the heart doe snot have to work as hard to deliver oxygen to the tissues.
8. Deep breathing helps reduce inflammation. a lot of diseases thrive in a body that is acidic. Deep breathing is said to reduce the acidity in the body making it more alkaline. (Remember, stress can also increase acidity in the body).
9. Deep breathing helps reduce and eliminate toxins in the body. The body is made to release some of the toxins in the body by breathing. Deep breathing helps move the lymphatic system which encourages a release of toxins from the body. Deep breathing removes carbon dioxide which increases oxygen in the blood which helps improve blood quality.
10. Deep breathing boosts energy levels and sharpens focus and concentration. It can also improve cellular regeneration and improve stamina.
There are many studies that are now showing the deep breathing can help lower depressive symptoms, help diabetics, lower anxiety, help you lose weight or maintain weight, help quit smoking, help in addictions, and so much more.
Here is a deep diaphragmatic breathing exercise for you to try.
1. Lie on your back. If you need, place a pillow under your knees and under your head. Make yourself comfortable!
2. Place one hand on your upper chest and the other just below your rib cage.
3. Breathe in slowly. You should feel your belly rise while your chest remains still. (It may feel weird to do this is your are used to shallow breathing).
4. Exhale slowly. Your belly should fall. Your chest should remain still.
5. Continue to breathe like this. You will begin to feel more relaxed and calm. Diffuse some essential oils and quietly play some of your favorite classical music or perhaps some calming outdoor sounds.
You can also try this sitting in a chair. It may be better to do the chair when you have practiced it enough lying down.
It is beneficial to practice this exercise about 3-4 times a day for about 5-10 minutes each time. The more you do it, the more you will find yourself breathing like this naturally.
- Heather Carnes