We all experience stress – some more than others. Although stress is a normal response, over the long-term it can have detrimental effects on your health. Combating stress is important; it can help improve your health and the stressful situation.
Stress can affect the body in numerous ways by contributing to or causing anxiety, depression, digestive issues, heart disease, sleep problems, weight gain, and impaired memory and concentration. For these reasons alone you can see why reducing stress is so important.
There are many different ways a person can reduce stress, but one technique in particular should be your go-to.
Deep breathing to reduce stress
Take a quiet moment to concentrate on your breathing – don’t change it, just simply breathe how you normally would. Do your lungs feel full? Has your belly risen? If you answered “no” to both questions, you’re not breathing deeply enough.
Diaphragmatic breathing – or deep breathing – is a useful technique to reduce stress. But why exactly does it work? Well, we’re here to explain.
Deep breathing requires the air you breathe in to completely fill your lungs by entering your nasal passageways. This type of breathing needs the stomach to rise. This may seem unnatural and we have society to blame. The image of a flat tummy is so desirable that both men and women alike tighten their abdominal muscles which can limit their ability to deeply breathe.
Shallow breathing – or the style of breathing many of us use – does not allow for the diaphragm to complete its range of motion. This lack of air to the lower part of the lungs can lead to shortness of breathe or even anxiety.
When we breathe deeply, not only do we take in more oxygenated air, it can also help lower blood pressure and slow down our heart beat – both rise when we are experiencing stress.
How to breathe deeply
If you want to reduce stress – or just improve your health – it’s a good idea to practice deep breathing. Although it seems simple enough, let us further explain how to properly conduct this technique.
Step 1: If possible, find a spot where it is quiet and you can relax. Feel free to either sit up tall or lie down.
Step 2: Take a normal breath and follow it up with a deep breath. You should feel your lungs expand and fill up with air. Likewise your belly should rise with each deep breath. To release the breath, expel the air either through your mouth or nose – whatever is most comfortable – ensuring it is all out.
If you have trouble with deep breathing on your own, you can join a yoga class or seek out a guide who can assist you during the process.
Essentially, deep breathing can occur anywhere at anytime and doesn’t just have to be used when stressed. It can be a daily routine to help you stay calm and become more mindful.
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