Tuesday, 6 October 2020

4 Effective Breathing Exercises To Relax, Ease Anxiety, And Cope With Depression

Breathing for wellness
Deep breathing is good for your wellbeing 


Mental wellness is very important and during the current age and times we're living in, there is a huge concern for the mental wellness of people. Often, adapting to some kind of new normal is harder than it looks. 

Part of what makes these difficult times harder includes people having lost their jobs, businesses forced to shut their doors, an inability to freely go out, the coronavirus, and things are just not the same way as what we could relate to before. 

Focusing on natural ways to lower stress levels, anxiety, and depression will go a long way to help improve mental wellness. 


Mental wellness has an effect on our physical wellbeing

When our mental wellness is effected, it tends to have a bearing on our physical wellbeing. For example, anxiety may increase stress hormones which leads to even more stress and emotional instability. 

Oftentimes, people develop chronic health conditions as a result of stressful jobs or lifestyles. These can include high blood pressure (hypertension), insomnia, headaches, palpitations, and may increase allergies. 

Some factors that contribute to stress include financial stress, poor health, sedentary lifestyles, unemployment, low income, and a lack of education to name a few. 

By changing your lifestyle, it improves the chances of better health and overall wellness. This is often easier said than done, but slowly implementing positive changes will produce positive results. 


Why do we need oxygen?

Oxygen into your lungs: Unsplash


Breathing is a natural response of the body. We breathe and inhale oxygen into our lungs. Oxygenated blood travels through to the organs and provides it with essential O2 helping it to function. O2 also contributes to the process of energy production and the breaking down of sugars and fats. 

But how we breathe also plays a very important role in how we feel. For example, shallow breaths or (chest breaths) increases cortisol and adrenalin. These chemicals are needed in fight-or-flight responses and not as part of regular breathing. 

But because when we're faced with difficult situations, our body tends to respond in this manner. The best way to adjust this is to practice proper deep breathing or what's also known as "diaphragmic breathing."

You'll notice in yoga or martial arts for that matter, that deep breathing plays an integral part of focus and energy. 

Breathing for wellness

Breathing for wellness
Deep breathing promotes focus and clears the mind: Image Unsplash


#1 Take deeper breaths 

While breathing properly is very important, breathing deeper is highly recommended for it's health benefits. Full diaphragmatic breathing is when you  feel your stomach and chest expand upon inhalation and contract when exhaling. 

Benefits:

It can help to lower your stress levels naturally by redirecting or altering the chemical reactions. 

Deep breathing is also invigorating and may improve your ability to feel awake and energised. 

It helps to manage pain by increasing serotonin and dopamine hormones


#2 Alternate nostril breathing 

Alternate nostril breathing is an effective way to instil a sense of calmness and focus. This is a wonderful practice to help lower anxiety, as well as improve mental focus. It's easy to do and can be done at anytime and anywhere.

Benefits:

It works to help your body to calm down

You'll feel less anxious 

It may improve cardiovascular function

#3 "Ujjayi Breath" aka Victorious breath (yoga pranayama breathing)

Breathing (pranayama): Image Unspalsh



This is a very good breathing exercise and is usually paired with yoga vinyasa. The Ujjayi breath is a relaxing practice with many advantages. Along with the yoga poses or vinyasa, the breath helps to create focus and mental clarity. 

Benefits:

Activates energy for mental focus and clarity

It increases concentration throughout the yoga practice  

It may help to release tension in the body 


#4  7/11 Breathing or 2:1 breathing

You've probably heard of this breathing exercise because it does wonders to create a feeling of instant calmness.  This is especially effective when you're anxious and it can help you to feel more relaxed. Hyperventilation is also sometimes due to anxiety amongst other possible contributors.

When our breath is shallow and rapid it's often due to stress or feeling anxious. As mentioned, to help reduce this reaction, its important to breathe properly. 

Two-to-one (2:1) breathing is breathing in for a shorter count and exhaling on a longer count. This is the same principal for 7/11 or 3/5 breathing. It's a long breath in and longer exhale to almost empty your lungs as much as possible. 

Benefits:

2:1 enhances relaxation and prolongs the parasympathetic responses throughout the breathing practice 

It helps to quiet the mind and improve focus 

May help the body to manage and reduce hypertension 


Conclusion

Your body starts to find balance: Image Unsplash 


While stress, anxiety, and depression form part of the most common mental conditions in the world, following a road to healing and wellness is important. 2020 Is and has been a very difficult year and for many of us, and as a result, an increase of emotional stressors. 

Practicing these breathing exercises for wellness may not be an overnight change, but will definitely improve your life and wellbeing. The key is to help condition the body to tap into its already present ability to "heal" itself. At the same time your body will adapt to finding balance. 


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