5 ways that relaxed breathing reduces stress and anxiety
The easiest way to check-in with how relaxed, anxious or stressed we are feeling is to observe our breath.
Is it full and relaxed? Or is it short and occupying the upper body? Or is it full and filling the diaphragm?
Any meditative energy therapy will stimulate a release in the body that frees up the breath. As stress levels drop the breath gets longer and more relaxed.
All the physiological responses in the body which occur during the stress response, begin to reduce as we breath in a relaxed way. Heart rate slows down, tension is reduced and our muscles relax.
1. Science and spirituality both agree that breathing is the foundation of a peaceful mind.
Ancient eastern philosophies teach about the power of the breath and this wisdom is as old as the hills. Science agrees with the power of the relaxation response in order to increase wellbeing and even immunity.
2. Breathing improves brain function and focus
“A 2018 study from Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience and the Global Brain Health Institute at Trinity, referenced a neurological link between respiration and focus. The study showed that those who incorporated consistent breathing exercises affected the levels of noradrenaline in their brain, which is a natural chemical messenger released when we are challenged, focused, or emotionally aroused. When we are stressed, we produce too much, and when we are sluggish, we produce too little; those who practised daily breathing techniques produced the sweet spot of noradrenaline and showed exceptional ability to focus.”
3. Relaxed breathing interrupts a pattern of stress
By interrupting the habitual cycle of stress with relaxed and focused breathing, a person can re-pattern the brain to trigger the relaxation response instead.
Taking even 2 minutes each day to practice a breathing technique will retrain your mind to recognise states of calm again.
4. Balance the autonomic nervous system
Many studies show that relaxed breathing helps to regulate the autonomic nervous system, which is in charge of regulating our internal temperatures, heart rate, digestion and other bodily functions.
Anxiety and stress-related conditions can be rebalanced by breathing, which sends signals to the autonomic nervous system to settle down.
5. Remember this works both ways
Whilst relaxed breathing will promote relaxation and reduce stress, it is important to note that you can relax the breath by simply relaxing your mind. Anything that promotes a feeling of relaxation will automatically relax your breathing too. They flow together and you can achieve a meditative breath by simply relaxing your mind in any way that helps you to do so. Your breath follows your mind. If focusing on one point on the wall relaxes you then notice how your breath changes as you do so.
Listen and relax to our Mindful Breathing meditation on the HI CHI App and experience how much more relaxed you feel when your breath is mindful and free.