Right now, we are breathing approximately 13 pints of air every minute!
Although normal breathing helps our body vastly, but the benefits of deep breathing are phenomenal.
You might ask what deep breathing is. But first, let’s start with the basics.
As per the book, Human Biology published by Thompson Rivers University, breathing mainly consists of two processes: inhalation and exhalation. It is an essential life function that will occur even if you are not thinking about it, also known as an involuntary action. But, when we are aware of our breathing, we can control it as per our wish!
The controlling factor of breathing is what differentiates normal breathing, also known as “Eupnea,” and deep breathing, aka “Diaphrgamnatic breathing,” or “Belly breathing” or “Abdominal breathing.”
Deep breathing exercises are a part of the relaxation technique followed to relieve stress.
Psychologist Megan Elizabeth Reihl at the University of Michigan Health in Ann Arbor says deep breathing “We are more slowly filling the lungs with air as we breathe in and allowing the lungs to expand, which will move the diaphragm (as it contracts). At the exhale, we release all the air out.”
In short, deep breathing is a technique where you focus on increasing the duration of your air input and output by taking long deep breaths.
By the end of this article, you will get a brief idea of the benefits of deep breathing, its effect on mental and the different methods you can use to perform deep breathing.
We will also mention some tips to correct your breathing habits, so these habits can stay with you longer and give you benefits.
How is it related to mental health?
Mental health awareness is something all of us should be well versed with and even quiz ourselves on it because focusing on your mental health is not a luxury! A research published on PubMed in 2019 by Valentina Perciavalle and team on “The role of deep breathing on stress” states that “Deep breathing technique is capable of inducing an effective improvement in mood and stress.”
There are indeed many physiological benefits of deep breathing, but deep breathing also benefits our brain. It helps by providing more oxygen to the brain, which improves our cognitive ability by increasing focus and also induces the parasympathetic nervous system to reduce stress-inducing factors.
Although the benefits of deep breathing don’t include a way to cure mental illness, it still has the potential to improve our mental health by reducing the amount of stress, which helps with problems like severe anxiety and depression.
Health Benefits of Deep Breathing Exercises
Now that you know the basics of deep breathing, let’s dive into its effects on our health.
There are numerous benefits of taking a deep breath. Here we have listed the most common benefits of deep breathing:
1. Provides calmness
But we need to understand that focusing on ourselves should be our top priority, and deep breathing is one of the tools through which we can get calmness in our life.
The basic point of deep breathing is to take in more oxygen than usual, which in turn helps reduce the hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline induced in the state of stress. This is achieved by stimulation of the PNS (Parasympathetic nervous system), which thereby decreases hormones as well as decreases the heart rate too. Deep breathing is one of the fastest ways to stimulate your PNS.
By reduction of stress conditions, one can feel lighter, and more productive and learn how to calm your mind. This also helps in cases of anxiety and other mental health issues.
An additional tip from us, whenever you feel angry, frustrated, or on the verge of bursting out, try deep breathing and thank us later!
2. Detoxifies the body
Whenever someone says detoxification, all of us think of the liver. Although the liver plays a significant role in purifying our body, remember our lungs are the ones that detoxify 70 percent of toxins in our body by removing them. Their primary function is to remove the gaseous waste in us, which is carbon dioxide (CO2)
Deep breathing helps with this process in our body by increasing the amount of oxygen in our blood and the number of respiratory waste products through exhalation. This helps in the detoxification of our body.
3. Makes one happier
After all, who doesn’t want to be happy? There are various ways to be happy, from practicing gratitude to listening to podcasts.
Being happy is also one of the benefits of deep breathing exercises that we all need. In this world full of chaos and stress, one thing that we should always feel and choose is to be happy. The happier we are, the more productive we will be. If you are happy, you possess the potential to achieve the impossible.
By practicing deep breathing exercises, we can see that we are happier than ever. This is due to the effect of a reduction in stress levels. Being happy makes us more likely to stay mentally and emotionally healthy. If we are happy, people around us will be happy.
4. Increases the respiratory capacity
Respiratory capacity or lung capacity is quite vital for our health. A person with better lung capacity is less prone to develop any respiratory disorders, even those who are already suffering from a respiratory disorder; increasing lung capacity helps improve their condition.
Deep breathing is like a workout for your lungs.
The more you work out, the stronger you get. Similarly, the more we perform deep breathing, our lungs will be stronger.
A stronger lung represents the air holding capacity of it. The more you have, the better!
5. Gives more energy
Till now, one of the significant benefits of deep breathing we have observed is providing oxygen to our body! But it doesn’t just end there. Once our body gets oxygen, its main function is to use it to break down our food. You might ask why? This process, known as respiration, is essential for us because it releases energy in the form of ATP as a by-product. ATP, the currency of our body, holds way more value than the dollar. ATP is necessary for us to stand, talk or even sleep. Without it, we won’t be able to move a finger.
6. Improves digestion
One of the basic physiological benefits of deep breathing exercises is digestion.
Digestion is affected by stress and many other factors, so a calm mind and good blood flow help the digestive organs perform properly and even perform peristalsis (movement of your digestive tract) properly. This helps in reducing indigestion, constipation, and other problems related to our digestion. With better digestion, you get a better mood and will also feel fresh all day.
7. Improves immunity
One of the most important benefits of deep breathing exercises for us is the enhancement of our immune system. In these past years of covid mishaps, we must realize that a good immune system is a necessity. Although deep breathing is not a quick fix for your immune system, it improves your immunity in the long run. Deep breathing provides more oxygenated blood to our body which in turn helps improve our immunity. It also helps build up NK cells, natural killer cells, which help one in the fight against harmful particles in the body.
8. Makes you sleep better
As deep breathing improves your nervous, circulatory, and digestive systems, it will put you to sleep like a baby. The calmer you are, the better sleep you’ll get. One of the benefits of deep breathing is calming your nerves and facilitating better blood flow; these are the major reasons you can get a better good night’s sleep.
9. Stimulates the lymphatic system
All of us know about the wonders of the circulatory system in our body, but let’s not forget about the lymphatic system, which contains twice as much lymphatic fluid as blood.
They play a significant role in the detoxification of our body. Then you might ask how it is considered a benefit of deep breathing exercises.
Unlike the circulatory system, the lymphatic system uses breathing to push itself around in our body. Therefore, deep breathing enhances this process and helps our lymphatic system function properly.
10. Helps ease pain during labor
It is a form of controlled deep breathing technique which is used mostly during parturition.
A research published on NCBI in 2021 by Chao Wu and team on “ The combined effects of Lamaze breathing training and nursing intervention on the delivery in primipara” reveals that Lamaze breathing in combination with loved one reduces labor pain and helps people relax, both physically and mentally.
11. Helps with menopausal symptoms
Depression, anxiety, hot flashes, and fatigue are just the tip of the iceberg during menopause. All these effects hamper one’s daily life. The benefits of deep breathing exercises benefit our entire body. When these exercises are done correctly and consistently, one can ease their menopausal symptoms.
How to start reaping the benefits of deep breathing?
If you have reached this article section, you must know all the benefits of deep breathing exercises. So, now the question arises, how?
Here we have listed the most used deep breathing techniques for you:
1. The 4-7-8 technique
One of the most popular ways of diaphragmatic breathing. There are numerous physical benefits of deep breathing exercises, but in this case, it is widely used to cope with anxiety, sleeplessness, and high-stress
- Place your tongue on the upper hard palate of your mouth, nearest to the teeth.
- Close your lips and inhale through your nostrils for 4 seconds
- Keep your lips shut and hold your breath for 7 seconds.
- Open your mouth and exhale for 8 seconds, mankind a whooshing sound.
- Keep your tongue in the same place during the entire process
- You might feel lightheaded after 4 to 5 cycles of it, but it will slowly fade away with time.
2. Resonant Breathing
It is also known as coherent breathing and mainly focuses on decreasing the breaths per minute to 5 to 6 times rather than 12 to 16.
A research published on PubMed by Jeffrey Pagaduan and team in 2019 on “Acute effects of resonance frequency breathing on cardiovascular regulation” reveals that six breaths per minute are considered optimum in lowering blood pressure and improving stress tolerance in our body.
- Sit upright in a comfortable place
- Inhale for 5 seconds.
- Exhale for 5 seconds.
Note: you can try to picture a calming scenario or image in your head while doing it.
3. Box Breathing
As per The Time, it is one of the easiest forms of deep breathing and is exactly like the name sounds, with four equal lengthed steps.
It’s not just you! It is tried and tested by the US Navy Seals itself! And they use it to relieve stress and tension and to improve focus.
- Inhale through your nose for 4 seconds
- Hold your breath for 4 seconds
- Exhale through your nose for 4 seconds
- Hold your breath for 4 seconds.
There are tons of benefits of deep breathing exercises, and we are just at the start. When done regularly, this exercise will benefit not just you physically but all levels of the human body. Every professional, including adults and college students suffering from stress at work when performing these simple exercises, can observe the changes.
It is high time we should focus on ourselves and start working toward greater physical and mental health!
In the words of Rober Urich, “A healthy outside starts from the inside.”
A significant benefit of deep breathing exercises is their positive effect on mental health. It helps us realize that working on our mental health is essential in this life. Here are some short-term mental health goals to help you build a better life.
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