The Importance of Breathing
This article is written by our guest author & scientific advisory board member Michelle Barrett, licensed psychologist and stress management expert.
We all know how to breathe, but most of us don’t take full advantage of how deep breathing can help us in our day-to-day lives.
Diaphragmatic breathing is the simplest and most effective way to lower stress and evoke the relaxation response. If you’ve ever watched a baby sleep, you see that their tummies go up and down while they breathe. This is diaphragmatic breathing and it’s how we all started. But over time, we stopped diaphragmatic breathing and instead began to rely on taking shallow breaths from the chest.
Diaphragmatic breathing can lower your heart rate and blood pressure, send oxygen to the brain, and activate the parasympathetic nervous system– the part of the nervous system that essentially calms the body.
A truly amazing benefit of diaphragmatic breathing is that your body can be trained to go into the relaxation response. It’s impossible to be anxious and relaxed at the same time. One state wins, and it’s usually stress and fear because those emotions feel so powerful in the moment. But when you regularly practice diaphragmatic breathing, you can teach your body to respond to stress and fear by going into a calmer and more relaxed state – just by breathing!