How many times has someone suggested that you “take a deep breath”? It’s not simply a concerned friend or family member’s way of saying that you need to calm down. Deep breathing actually has immense physical and mental benefits – and the best part is, it’s free and easy to do any time of day from any location. As your trusted mental health counselor in Michigan, I’m dedicating this week’s blogs to exploring some of the many benefits of deep breathing.
1. Oxygenates Your Brain
As your breath travels into your lungs, it brings with it the oxygen you need to survive. Deep breathing helps increase oxygen flow to your brain, which helps clear your mind and reduce anxiety. Breathing also helps oxygenate all of your cells.
2. Relaxes Your Muscles
What happens when you get scared or stressed? Your breathing becomes shallow and your muscles tighten. If you force yourself to take deep breaths, your muscles will relax and you, in turn, will feel much calmer. It’s also a great way to help yourself fall asleep at night!
3. Massages Your Organs
As you breathe in, your diaphragm contracts and moves downward in your chest cavity, giving your lungs space to expand. As you breathe out, your diaphragm relaxes and rises back up. This gentle movement massages your organs, which helps to improve their functionality.
4. Boosts Your Nervous System
Your nervous system is the network of nerve cells that carries impulses between different areas of the body. Without a healthy nervous system, your body cannot function properly. Deep breathing helps oxygenate you nerves, spinal cord, and brain, which in turn helps the entire body.
5. Improves Your Energy Levels And Stamina
Our bodies rely heavily on oxygen in order to stay energized. Without proper breathing techniques, our bodies tend to tire quickly. Practicing deep breathing techniques can help your body stay energized and stay active for longer amounts of time.
6. Releases Toxins From Your Body
Some experts agree that your body releases up to 70% of all its toxins through exhalation. If your body does not have the chance to rid itself of these toxins through proper breathing, it will have to work overtime to combat them. If this pattern persists for too long, you could become sick.
7. Reduces Stress
What happens when we become stressed? More than likely, our minds become so fixated on one major problem or (overwhelmed by many minor issues) that we are unable to focus on anything else. Taking deep breaths forces our bodies to relax and refocus, which helps reduce stress.
8. Relieves Pain
Deep breathing during a painful experience may seem counter-intuitive; many people hold their breath when experiencing sharp pain. However, we have seen time and time again that deep breathing actually helps to relieve pain. Next time you experience sharp pain or discomfort, take several deep breaths and see if it helps.
9. Strengthens Relationships
Many relationship issues stem from harsh or angry comments that are made in the heat of the moment. Taking a deep breath before you allow yourself to say anything to your partner can force you to take a step back and consider the bigger picture, allowing you to become proactive (rather than reactive).
Next time you find yourself feeling stressed, agitated, overwhelmed, or pained, I encourage you to take a moment to breathe deeply. Better yet, try to make deep breathing a part of your daily life. Take it from an experienced therapist in Michigan – you will probably be amazed by the results!