Stress affects all cultures, genders, races, and ages. No matter what level of physical health our bodies may be in, there is always one very simple, highly beneficial and easy exercise we can do to quickly combat the affects of anxiety, fear, and other stressors.
Deep breathing involves flexing your diaphragm while taking deep, even breathes. When done correctly deep breathing can be therapeutic and have noticeable health benefits. With enough practice it can even become your standard way of breathing. Deep breathing is very often used as therapy for problems like hyperventilation and anxiety disorders. By simply adding a few minutes of deep breathing here and there through your day you can greatly increase your health while decreasing your stress.
How does deep breathing help your general health? Well first off it can reduce stress. When stressed people have the tendency to take shallow breathes. Some studies can shown that a fast breathing rate is linked to high blood pressure To relax you do the opposite. In the same vein of thought it can help to clear and focus your mind. Deep breathing can increase your energy level and helps turn off racing thoughts.
Deep breathing also releases endorphines into the system. These are our bodies natural painkillers. This can help relieve general aches and pains, as well as help ease problems with sleeplessness. Deep breathing also relaxes muscles, a major cause of neck, back and stomach pains. Some studies have shown that deep breathing can also benefit asthma sufferers. This is partly because deep breathing can strengthen weak abdominal and intestinal muscles, and who doesn’t want that?
To try deep breathing you must draw air into the lungs while expanding the stomach rather than your chest. Sit or lie down somewhere quiet and get comfortable. To be able to feel the difference between your regular breathing and the deep breathing you can place one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest. This will let you feel when you are breathing correctly.
Take breathes that are long and slow. This gives the body the ability to absorb more of the inhaled oxygen. Breath in through your nose, nice and slow. Exhale through pursed lips just as slowly. As you breath feel the motion of your stomach. If your rib cage is expanding, keep trying and focus on breathing with your diaphragm. Relax and repeat until you are comfortable. If you don’t get it right away, don’t worry. This is supposed to relax you, so do not let it cause stress. Try again later if you become frustrated.
After you become comfortable with the exercises, take them on the road. Try to make deep breathing a habit. You can do it while driving to work, sitting at your desk working, waiting in line sitting, while watching television, just about anytime. at the computer, standing in line at the grocery store, sitting in traffic. It can help deal with the stress of daily life.
The video below from Lance Armstrong's Foundation, Livestrong.com, has more information on deep breathing.
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