What do you tell yourself (and what people tell you) when you’re anxious, sad, or nervous? “Just breathe”. It’s like a mantra, something you keep repeating to yourself until you get a grip and calm down, but there is much more than “buying time” with this. We usually don’t pay too much attention to breathing, even though it’s something we do every day and keeps us alive. Even though it’s a basic activity, breathing can be done in a number of ways, and some of these might help you cope with stress.
Improve your memory
Scientists have discovered that your breathing rhythm creates electrical activity in the brain, which, in turn, affects how well you remember things. You remember things differently when you inhale and exhale, as well as when you breathe through your mouth or your nose. It seems that we remember objects and faces better when we see them while inhaling, but the effect is lost when we breathe in through the mouth. So next time you stress over not being able to remember something, try to put it to memory while inhaling deeply through your nose, and you’ll commit it to memory faster.
Help with anxiety
That breathing rhythm and techniques greatly affect our brain is not a speculation, and it can also have a positive impact on people who struggle with anxiety. When we control our breathing, we stimulate the vagus nerve that runs from the very base of our brain all the way to our abdomen, thus triggering the parasympathetic nervous system. As a result, our heart rates become lower, and our nervous system stops being overstimulated. One of the roles of the vagus nerve is to increase our focus and calmness by releasing a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, and the more of it we have, the less anxiety we get to experience.
Lower stress levels
Our brains have been programmed to always be alert and to warn us of any threats and dangers in our surroundings, and sometimes our brains are just too good at this. If our brain recognizes a lot of things as potential threats (be it physical or physiological), we feel like we’re constantly waiting for something very bad to happen. Instead of giving in and allowing our stress levels to induce a panic attack, we can use different breathing techniques to calm down. We control our breathing, thus signaling our brain that there’s no immediate threat, and in turn, we make it stronger. This means that when a truly stressful situation occurs, our brain and body will not react as harshly, and we will be able to stay in control.
Allow you to fall asleep faster
If you find yourself awake in your bed, frustrated by the lack of sleep, breathing exercises can help. Take deep breaths through your nose while counting to four, hold your breath while counting to seven, and exhale through your mouth fully while counting to eight. If you have trouble breathing through your nose, you should consider getting rhinoplasty surgery to ensure you can take deep breaths without problem in the future. This simple breathing exercise calms your nervous system and prepares your body for sleep, and the more you practice it, the less time you’ll need to fall asleep.
Restores your full lung capacity
With healthy lungs, there is nothing easier and more natural than breathing. About 80% of the work is done by your diaphragm, and our lungs resemble a screen door with spring because they open and shut on their own. Sadly, they become less so with time, and sometimes the air gets trapped inside our lungs, builds up, and leaves less room for the diaphragm to work properly. If you do different breathing exercises regularly, it will help rid the lungs of that accumulated and stale air, increase your oxygen levels, and your diaphragm will be able to do its job.
Help regulate your blood pressure
When breathing slowly, we allow our bodies to become more sensitive. We become more sensitive to the change in pressure, or better yet, the mechanism that helps regulate blood pressure through our heart rate does. When we take control and force ourselves to slow down our breathing, we end up with much lower blood pressure and heart rate. As a result, the risk of stroke and cerebral aneurysm becomes significantly lower, and our hearts will be much healthier.
It’s been scientifically proven that breathing exercises will help you lower your stress and anxiety levels, but in order for it to work, you should first practice. In addition to supplying your body with oxygen, you will also positively influence your emotions, so take time to learn how to breathe properly.