Updated: Sep 4
Recently, we made a blog post titled Six Ways To Cope With Stress, one of the methods covered was breath work & how it relates to managing our physiological & psychological systems.
Today, we wanted to do a more in-depth research overview of breathing as a mechanism to help us feel more safe, comfortable, & relaxed if we find ourselves in situations that cause some stress.
To summarize part of our latest posts, breathing is a tool that can be used to manipulate our body's to either be more relaxed or more alert & hyper.
In order to feel more relaxed, the parasympathetic nervous system most be activated while the sympathetic nervous system prompts us to feel more hyperactive. These states of being are usually activated as we react to our environment to ensure survival & avoidance of stress; through concentrated effort, our bodies can be tricked into achieving these states.
For instance, being more calm is desirable in environments when we are feeling anxious, overwhelmed & other out-of-body sensation. Conversely, being more hyperaware is important when we are feeling tired, lethargic, & drowsy.
Scenarios like anticipating an important upcoming conversation with someone, or experiencing highway hypnosis while driving are instances where we want our nervous systems on our side as much as possible. These are hypothetical but there are likely many other ways where we live very hyperactive it becomes uncomfortable, & lethargic that it could cause us to make a reckless mistake.
Regulation of breathing has been popularized by research studies dating as far back as 1910 for clinical purposes!
Based on recent publications, respiration & emotion interconnect with one another as homeostatic changes through regulation of breathing can cause whole body changes & symptoms related to anxiety, depression, & stress (Jerath et al, 2015).
It is abundantly clear that the ability to control one's breathing regulation helps to support a healthy mind/body dynamic. Also, it just feels good to stop & breath as a nice reset to become more clear-minded
Inhale the good stuff, exhale the bad stuff!
Here are 3 ways to incorporate more focused breathing:
1. Yoga Breathing:
During yoga sessions is when we want to chime in more on our breath work. This kind of breathing helps people feel more present, out of their own head, & allows people to be more prepared for deep meditation (Brown et al, 2009). Yoga puts us in a more laxed state as is & breath work further supports that state of being & useful to generate more resilience against mental health disorders (Brown et al, 2009).
2. Double Inhale/One Exhale:
We elaborated on this more in our latest blog post, we wanted to emphasize this again because of how simple, effective, & doable this is anywhere. This technique has been cited as a immediate mechanism to be in a more calm state by Stanford University professor Andrew Huberman.
What you think to do is take a small inhale through the nose followed by a larger inhale immediately afterwards like two long sniffs, & then slowly breath out through the mouth.
This is called a physiological sigh to reduce stress in real-time to use instantly & is done this way because more carbon dioxide gets off-loaded.
3. Diaphragmic Breathing:
Diaphragmic breathing takes a bit more time & focus in order to achieve the most out of this exercise because it requires more focus on the actions going on.
What you want to do is to get into a more comfortable position whether that's legs crossed on the floor or straight out while on a yoga mat, a bean bag chair, a bed, or even a comfy chair. Next you want to make sure your posture is straight to engage with the diaphragm more effectively. After, take a deep breath in through the nose on a ten second count, then out through the mouth for ten seconds.
Repeat this for sets of five (or over/under based on preference) & aim for slow breaths to inflate & deflate the diaphragm.
This technique has been shown to lower blood pressure, helps with blood flow, & improves respiratory functions; there's as much physiological as there are psychological benefits to this (Hopper et al, 2018).
Practice this daily enough to be habitual in your day to be more clear-headed throughout.
Lastly, we want to mention that inhaling through the nose (also known as nasal breathing) is a more preferred way to breath rather than through the mouth (except for exhaling) because there is more air flow to vital body parts, less exposure to airborne substances, & for better sleep quality.
Hope you guys enjoyed reading & can breath a little bit better now!
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Disclaimer: This blog post is intended for educational purposes only, it is important for readers to be mindful of all information presented & have their own due diligence.