When anyone talks about health and healthy living, our focus automatically shifts to calories and weight. We start thinking about the exercise we do and the food we eat. People do recognize the fact that measuring, reducing, and managing stress is a key component of healthy living. we can link chronic stress to heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, anxiety, and several other disorders. Because of commercial aims, people and companies have made the de-stressing process extremely complex and expensive. Can we do it some other way?
There is clear clinical evidence to suggest that deep breathing can be an effective intervention to help improve many chronic health conditions. Although breathing exercises are a complementary therapy, it has proved to improve overall health and reduce the requirement for medication.
Signs of the Body to Relax
When you are under stress, your sympathetic nervous system is active which is associated with stress-related symptoms such as higher heart rate, elevated blood pressure, anxiety, etc. We call these symptoms simply as the ‘fight or flight’ response.
When you engage in deep breathing, your abdomen is engaged leading to the filling up of the whole lung with air. This process triggers the vagus nervous system which is the main component of the parasympathetic nervous system. This deep breath immediately starts to counter the effects of fight or flight.
The effect of deep breathing is instant. It immediately lowers blood pressure, reduces heart rate, and enables a person to think rationally and clearly.
Benefits of Deep Breathing
There are several benefits of deep breathing. Let us list a few most significant ones.
- Lower Blood Pressure – Deep breathing for a few minutes can lower blood pressure by 30 points or so. The effect is instant.
- Improve the quality of life in people with Asthma and COPD – Mindful breathing is a non-pharmaceutical way of helping people with lungs issues deal with the disease.
- Help manage depression and anxiety – Doing mindful breathing exercises can rebalance brain functions and other systems leading to better mental health.
- Reduce tension-related headache – Deep breathing helps relax and reduce muscle tensions. This leads to a relaxed shoulder and neck and hence a reduction in headache.
- Reduce Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) – The physiological movements of the diaphragm can help relieve tension in the digestive tract and can help with GERD, diarrhea, and urgency.
- Reduce hot flash episodes and severity – High level of cortisol, one of the important hormones responsible for flight or flight response is in line with hot flashes. There is some evidence that deep slow breathing at a rate of 6 to 8 breaths per minute may help reduce hot flashes.