Why is breathing deeply so important for stress management?
Oxygen provides energy to all parts of the body, when the flow of oxygen to the brain is completely cut off, a person will lose consciousness within 10 seconds. The rate at which we inhale and exhale is controlled by the respiratory centre within the medulla oblongata in the brain. Interestingly this is also the part of the brain that instigates the stress response.
More oxygen will clear your mind, rejuvenate your skin and energise your whole body. On the other hand, lack of oxygen will lead to mental sluggishness, lack of focus, depression and anxiety.
The benefits of breathing correctly include purifying the blood, creating an upsurge in energy, and relaxing your body and mind.
If you are looking for a relief from stress, practising deep breathing is one of the best services that you could be doing yourself. Even under normal circumstances, taking a full deep breathe by itself is deeply relaxing. However, most of us are used to ‘shallow breathing’; using only 25-30 per cent of our lung capacity.
You have everything you need on board already. Just by using your breathe you are easily, effectively and efficiently able to change your state and how you are feeling.
So how can you practice breathing for stress relief?
This technique can be done anywhere and at virtually any time; it is a simple technique with profound benefits.
Sit or stand in a comfortable, relaxed position with your spine erect.
Inhale slowly through your nose to the count of 5. Imagine a ball or balloon in your bely inflating
Hold the breathe in the ball or balloon in your belly for 5-10 seconds.
Count slowly to 8 as you exhale
Repeat this technique several times.
Neil Shah, Chief De-stressing Officer at The Stress Management Society