Advantages of Deep Breathing: Your Ultimate Guide
Updated: Aug 8, 2022
Discover all of the advantages of deep breathing for lower stress levels, better sleep. and improved physical health.
You've probably heard about deep breathing and that it is important. But, did you know that deep breathing has benefits for stress levels, sleep, physical health, and so much more?
What if I told you that deep breathing for just a few minutes a day could significantly improve your physical, emotional, and cognitive health?
Pretty great, right?
This 1 simple tool can have huge benefits for your mood, productivity, and confidence.
Advantages of Deep Breathing: Why It Works
You may have heard that deep breathing can be helpful for all kinds of things. Your stress levels. Your sleep. Your health. And so much more.
But, did you know why it is so helpful?
When the body is activated by the sympathetic nervous system, heart rate and blood pressure increase and individuals experience muscle tension, chest tightness, sweating, hotness, digestive issues, and other physical issues.
The opposite of this response is the parasympathetic nervous system in the body, responsible for rest, relaxation, and calm.
Deep breathing calms down the nervous system by activating the parasympathetic nervous system for decreased heart rate and blood pressure, reduced muscle tension, better digestive function, and a greater sense of calm overall. Breathing increases oxygen to the brain, improving cognitive abilities.
Deep breathing sends a signal to the brain that everything is okay and safe, allowing both the mind and body to calm down. Therefore, deep breathing offers many advantages for a variety of areas of life.
7 Advantages of Deep Breathing
There are so many helpful benefits of deep breathing. Below are 7 ways deep breathing can improve your life:
1. Improved Cardiovascular Functioning
Deep breathing has been shown to improve cardiovascular functioning by improving heart rate, blood pressure, and pulmonary gas exchange, which minimizes cardiac work performed by the heart.
Therefore, deep breathing is a strong factor in improving cardiovascular functioning and reducing the incidence of cardiovascular events such as strokes and heart attacks.
2. Reduced Stress, Anxiety, Irritability, and Anger
Deep breathing has been consistently associated with the reduction of negative emotions. Once the sympathetic nervous system is activated, individuals are more likely to experience stress, anxiety, irritability, and anger.
Because deep breathing calms the sympathetic nervous system and activates the parasympathetic nervous system, deep breathing can be especially helpful in reducing negative emotions such as anxiety, irritability, and other emotions that may interfere in our day to day functioning.
3. Improved Sleep
Difficulty falling or staying asleep is often related to overactivation of the nervous system causing stress, anxiety, muscle tension, and racing thoughts.
Because deep breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system and calms the body and mind, as well as reduces muscle tension, deep breathing is an excellent way to improve sleep.
Deep breathing is especially helpful for inducing a sense of relaxation. Therefore, it is helpful for improving sleep.
4. Improved Cognition
Deep breathing calms the body and mind by activating the parasympathetic nervous system. When the body and mind are calm, cognition improves.
In fact, research has indicated that individuals had a better retention of a newly learned motor skill after participating in a deep breathing exercise.
Deep breathing has been implicated in improved attention and focus, better problem-solving and decision-making, and stronger memory. All these factors are important for productivity.
Therefore, deep breathing helps with productivity by improving cognitive functioning.
5. Better Digestion
When the sympathetic nervous system is activated, digestive processes are put on hold. This can cause issues such as nausea, diarrhea, constipation, stomach cramps, and other uncomfortable symptoms.
Because deep breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the rest and digest system, digestive processes can return to a stable point, reducing uncomfortable digestive issues and improving physical health.
6. Stronger Immune System
Deep breathing strengthens the lungs and improves oxygen absorption, as well as strengthens the muscles of the chest. Because deep breathing also helps with sleep and reduction of stress, deep breathing can be especially helpful for strengthening the immune system.
Lung inefficiency, high stress, and poor sleep are all contributing factors to a reduced immune system.
7. Pain Reduction
Deep breathing is a commonly used strategy for chronic pain. Deep breathing has been shown to reduce negative feelings associated with pain, such as tension, irritability, and depression. It has also been shown to increase pain thresholds by decreasing sympathetic arousal that can increase pain.
As you can see, there are many great advantages of deep breathing. Learning how to engage in deep breathing can be a great way to receive all of these helpful benefits.
How to Practice Deep Breathing
Follow these instructions to get the most of our your deep breathing practice:
1) Sit in a comfortable place with your feet on the ground
2) Place one hand on your chest and one hand on your belly. During this exercise, we want to feel our belly rising and expanding, and we want our chest to be mostly still
3) Take a slow inhale through your nose over a count of two seconds. This should be calm and gentle. Imagine filling your nose with air over two seconds. As you inhale in through your nose, imagine inflating a balloon in your stomach with air (you should feel your belly rise)
4) Exhale the air out of your mouth with slightly pursed lips over a count of three seconds. You should be able to hear your exhale. Imagine blowing on hot soup or blowing out a row of birthday candles. Imagine deflating the balloon in your stomach by gently squeezing your abs.
5) Repeat for 3-5 cycles
Tips for Deep Breathing Success
1) Practice daily at the same time for prevention and practice. Set aside 5 minutes per day at a consistent time. First thing in the morning or at night tend to be good times for most people
2) If you feel dizzy or lightheaded, this means you have inhaled too quickly or held it in your nose for too long
3) Make sure you are fully exhaling all of the air out of your mouth over the entire 3 seconds
4) Once you are comfortable with this exercise, slowly increase the time of the inhale and exhale. For example, inhale for 3, exhale for 4. Increase time slowly over time for greater deep breathing benefits.
Deep breathing has so many benefits for our physical, emotional, and cognitive health.
Incorporating deep breathing into your routine in a consistent way is one of the best ways to reduce stress, improve sleep, and increase productivity.
Need help in reducing your stress levels and improving your sleep with deep breathing and so much more? My Master Stress Method 1:1 coaching gives you all the tools to step in your happiest, healthiest, and most productive self.
Book a discovery call so we can talk about how to change your life next.
-----About Dr. Julia
Hi! I'm Dr. Julia. Health psychologist, stress and sleep expert, and creator of the Master Stress Method.
I have worked with thousands of individuals in major hospitals, university medical centers, and primary care settings to improve their stress levels, sleep, and overall emotional and physical well being.
My current focus is helping busy professionals prevent and manage the high stress that is getting in the way of their productivity, mood, sleep, and their ability to reach their full potential.
My 8-week, 1:1 coaching program has helped hundreds of stressed out, overwhelmed, and burned out clients significantly reduce their stress and anxiety, improve their sleep, and maximize their productivity, in just 8 short weeks.
I can't wait to help you stop the struggle with stress, for good. Let's chat :)