Updated: Dec 6, 2021
I'm not at all a neuroscientist but in the course of my work, I get to learn about brain functioning sometimes and it is SO cool!
I had a client tell me recently that she didn't think deep breathing would work for her. She felt like you needed to be a yoga practitioner or an expert at meditation for it to make a difference. NOT true! Deep breathing is for ALL of us!
When our emotions are high, our cognitive thinking skills decrease significantly. Deep breathing helps to calm us down and can clear our heads to (hopefully) make wise decisions.
In our brains, we have a sympathetic nervous system which controls our stress response and a parasympathetic nervous system which controls our relaxation response. These two systems cannot be activated at the same time.
Deep breathing activates the vagus nerve and physiologically can shift us into our parasympathetic nervous system. Sharing all the details in case you care to learn more.
How does it work? This is the simplest break down. There are many different postures and breathing techniques you can try but I'll highlight this one.
Take deep, slow breaths. In through the nose and out through the mouth.
Count to three as you inhale and again as you exhale to keep your mind focused (most people can't count and think about other things at the same time)
Repeat 5 times
You can also combine it with stretches by inhaling and moving a body part in 1 direction, exhaling moving the same body part in the other direction.
Other cool thing, as you breathe deeply, you'll notice where there's tension in your body so you can stretch. It feels sooooo good. Try it out!
Mental Health Mondays