Today, we live in an uncertain world. Uncertainty not only effects our personal and professional lives but also our mental well-being.
This leads to anxiety, feelings of nervousness, and many other mental challenges. Several scientific research have proven that breathing techniques are among the most effective ways to deal with these issues.
Breathing exercises can help improve your mental well-being.
Most of us aren’t fully aware of the relationship between the brain and respiration. We breathe without using our lungs to its fullest extent and we develop unhealthy respiratory habits that can cause high blood pressure and increased heartbeat.
We explore the benefits of breathing techniques, the different kinds of breathing, and their significance. So, let’s get started! Read on to learn how something we do for our entire lives can be practiced better.
The relationship between the brain and breath
“Breathe deeply” is an old piece of advice we often share with people. It’s been around for years now. But did you know why we say it?
A recent research shows that controlling our breath through mindfulness meditation has a positive effect on our brain’s emotion regulation regions. When people meditate, their brain activity in the emotion regulation regions changes into a more organized pattern than the normal rest condition.
A new study shows that our breathing rhythm has an effect on the electrical activities in our brains. And these electrical activities affect our memories. In short, they control how well we memorize things.
A new study has found that the insular and anterior cingulate cortices are responsible for influencing our sense of self. When we accurately track our breathing, they remain active.
Deep and controlled breathing is an effective way to decrease anxiety and relieve tension. Slowing down and focusing on your breath can help calm your mind and lower your blood pressure.
How to Breathe Better for Mental Health Improvement
Different breathing techniques
Some forms of breathing exercises have been found to be especially helpful for relaxation. Here we’d like to explain some of these techniques.
Deep breathing is an excellent technique for relaxing yourself when stressed out. It slows down your heartbeat and helps you relax.
To practice deep breaths, follow these simple steps:
- Sitting comfortably in a relaxed position is important for good health.
- Breathe in slowly through your nose and let the breath expand into your chest and stomach.
- Breathe out slowly through the nose.
- Do this exercise for at least five to ten minutes.
You can also use affirmations or chants when breathing.
Box breathing (or “square breathing”) is a type of slow breathing that helps reduce stress and improve concentration.
To get the most out of yoga, one should be sitting straight in a comfortable position; this helps one to breathe better and more comfortably.
These are the basic steps for practicing box breath:
- Counting from one to four, breathe in deeply through your mouth.
- Breathe out for a count of four.
- Counting to four while exhaling helps relax your body and mind.
- Wait for another four second and then repeat the process.
Pranayam is actually a part of yoga. The word pranayam itself originates from the Sanskrit language. It literally translates into “control of breath”.
Yoga uses pranayama (breathe) techniques to help us focus and calm down, which helps us get rid of stress and stay energized throughout the day.
Regular practice of prāṇāyāma can help us to improve our overall wellbeing by connecting our body and our minds and promoting mindfulness.
There are various types of breath control exercises, including Kapalabhati Pranayam, Nadi Shodan, Bhramari, etc. Each type offers its own unique set of benefits.
Regular 20–30 minute sessions of pranayam (breathing exercises) can make a big difference to our overall physical and mental well-being.
Here is how you practice bhastrika pranaayama, an easy exercise.
- Sit in a comfortable position and relaxed posture
- Breathe in through the nose with strong pressure and then breathe out through the nose with strong power and volume.
- As you breathe in and out, focus on the breath. Do this for at least one minute.
Mindfulness means focusing fully on one thing at a time. It helps us concentrate better by taking our mind off everything else. We can use mindfulness techniques to help us cope with things we’re anxious about, for example.
It is easy to practice mindfulness through focused attention on one’ s natural breath. There is no need to alter the simple inhale/exhale pattern when practicing mindfulness.
You can use the following tips to practice mindful breathing correctly:
- It’s important to find a quiet and relaxing place where you won’t be distracted while breathing.
- Lie down comfortably or sit up straight to practice mindfulness meditation.
- Focus on your breath while simultaneously concentrating on your body and thoughts.
Diaphragmatic Breathing can help us relax and get rid of stress and anxiety. When we breathe using our diaphragms, our bodies engage the diaphragm (the muscle between the ribs), stomach, and abdominal (stomach) muscle fully.
- Place your hands on your stomach.
- Breathing in through the mouth until the belly rises.
- Breathe out slowly through the mouth.
- You may also touch your stomach to feel the rise and falls of your abdomen.
Advantages of Doing Breathing Exercises Frequently
Breathing exercises help us to focus our attention on breathing. When we practice them, they have very different effects.
Breathing is considered to be life force in yoga; the focused playing of breath energies yields different kinds of results and benefits.
By using diaphragmatic breathing and other forms of pranayama, we can strengthen our cells, tissues, gland, and organs.
Pranayama actually helps relieve high blood pressure, improve moods, and strengthen the lungs. It also strengthens the body’s immune system and improves digestive health.
Improves energy levels
Breathing exercises are an excellent way to boost energy. They help to maintain the function of the cells in our bodies, which in turn boosts energy levels.
Improves cognitive functions
Breathe regularly. Doing so improves your cognitive functions. Studies show that when you breathe regularly, you strengthen your powers of concentration and memory.
Improves sleep quality
Practicing mindfulness meditation helps us become less stressed and calmer over time. This is because we’re practicing mindful breathing.
Reduces stress and anxiety
Deep breaths increase the blood flow to the brain, which stimulates the parasympathetic nervous sytem (the “rest and digest” part of our autonomic nervous system). It calms the body and minds, and diverts our focus away from stressful thoughts.
There is plenty of evidence showing that breathing techniques can help us improve our overall health.
However, if we want to get the most out of these breathing techniques, we should practice them regularly. We can begin by doing simpler ones first and then move on to more advanced ones.
It’s important to remember to use your breath to relax when feeling anxious or stressed out. However, if you feel depressed or suicidal, please seek help from a professional.