We have all hit that point during the day where the stress of getting everything done becomes all too much. Ever approaching deadlines and worries in our personal life can quickly impact the way we behave and interact with those around us.
There are, however, ways in which we can take control and give our minds a much-needed respite. As you may have already read, the practice of mindfulness and meditation is becoming more and more popular. With accessible recourses like Headspace available, learning about these techniques and their benefits is much easier.
One part of using meditative techniques to tackle anxiety is breathing exercises. While it’s something we do all day, every day without noticing, many of us forget the benefit of focusing on our breath to bring some solace to our mentality. About 20% of the air we inhale is used by our brain, which means it uses three times as much energy as our muscles do.
What are the Benefits of Breathing Exercises on the Mind?
The benefits of conscious breathing exercises are varied. From being able to alter one’s mood to actually encouraging longer life and a healthier body.
Some consider the most powerful benefit of breathing exercises is on one’s mind. By manipulating our breath and focusing our attention on inhales and exhales, we can drastically change how we feel. At times of extreme stress, fear, sadness or joy the heart tends to race and our lungs seem to work in overtime, all adding to that feeling of anxiety and emotional unrest.
Be mindful of when occurrences like this arise. Take the time to step back for a few minutes, breath slowly in through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Focus on the feeling of your chest rising and falling and how your body feels against the surface it’s sitting or standing on. In doing so your body will start to relax, the heart and lungs begin to fall back to normal levels, while filling your mind with oxygen allowing you to become more focused and alert.
Often, when we are confronted with pain, be it physical or mental, we tend to hold our breath. Most of the time we do so without even realising. Yet if we learn and adapt to breathe through the pain, we can learn to manage it and also decrease the level of pain we experience. Deep breathes help oxygenate the blood which then floods the brain causing it to release endorphins which subsequently help reduce stress in the body and decrease levels of pain.
Body competition is often a cause of stress and anxiety, there are, however, ways in which breathing exercises can assist in managing body weight. As we feed our heart with oxygen, we increase our cardiovascular capacity and subsequently the amount of oxygen which is delivered to our cells. By feeding our cells in an aerobic state, we encourage the burning of fat stores, which can work towards a leaner body shape.
With mental health awareness becoming ever more supported, there is a growing number of ways in which we can keep our minds healthy. Practicing breathing techniques is a free and easy step towards training our mind, keeping them alert and reducing symptoms of stress and depression.