Did You Know…you can overcome your body’s built-in stress response by using easy deep breathing techniques, an exercise that also produces a wealth of health benefits throughout your entire body?
A previous article on deep breathing, showed it was the single most powerful daily practice for advancing your health and well-being…which is breathing.
But the health benefits of deep breathing techniques are so important that a single article couldn’t possibly do it justice.
In his book, Conscious Breathing, Gay Hendricks, Ph.D. tells readers that the body’s first response to painful emotions is literally to stop breathing. “Immediately after [a stressful experience], you’re flooded with adrenaline,” Hendricks writes, “making your heart beat faster and your breath quicken.”
As a result, one of the most common effects of chronic stress is habitual shallow breathing. Chronic shallow breathing is like living in a state of constant apprehension and it takes a serious toll on the body.
Serious Side Effects of “Bad” Breathing
Shallow breathing and habitually holding your breath compromise your health and overall wellness in more ways than you realize. Reduced oxygen intake and not expelling enough carbon dioxide sparks significant stress on the cellular level.
Marcelle Pick, an OB/GYN, NP and founder of the Women to Women Clinic in Yarmouth, Maine, says she sees the effects of “bad” breathing in a surprising number of patients, who “show irregularly high levels of carbon dioxide in their blood.”
This condition has unpleasant consequences like:
• Mental fog
• Decreased tissue function
“I often note ‘needs to breathe’ on a patient’s chart,” says Pick. “Not the shallow chest breathing…but deep, meaningful breaths, or ‘belly breathing’.”
Deep Breathing, Live Longer…and BETTER!
Several years ago, Science News reported findings from the National Institute of Aging showing that “a person’s pulmonary function is a reliable indicator of general health and vigor and is also the primary measure of a person’s potential lifespan.”
Then in 2005, Richard Brown, MD, and Patricia Gerbarg, MD, analyzed several studies and concluded that deep-breathing techniques are extremely effective in treating a number of health problems, such as:
- Stress-related disorders
- Eating disorders
Brown and Gerbarg noted that deep breathing techniques aren’t just great complements to conventional medical treatments for these disorders— breathing techniques can also be used as a stand-alone substitute.
Deep Breathing in Ten Seconds That Can Change Your Life
In his book, The Healing Code, Alexander Loyd, Ph.D., N.D., shares an incredible deep-breathing technique/ exercise he calls “Instant Impact.” This exercise offers the benefits of 30-60 minutes of either vigorous exercise, deep-breathing, or meditation—and it takes just 10 seconds.
Instant Impact can be done any time you feel you need it, however, Loyd recommends going through the following 4-step series at least 3 times a day:
I. Rate Your Stress
When you begin using Instant Impact, focus on the overall level of stress that you are feeling that day or that moment. How intense is it? How strong is it? How much is it affecting the way you feel? The way you relate to others? The way you see the world? Do you feel it anywhere in your body?
We ask you to rate your stress on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being no stress at all and 10 being an unbearable level of stress. This is an extremely helpful tool for you.
When you rate your stress level before and after doing Instant Impact, you have a measurement for your success in reducing that level. You will know whether to do it again to lower your level further. You will know when your overall level of stress begins to decrease after practicing Instant Impact for a little while.
II. Place Your Palms Together
Put your palms in any position that’s comfortable. You can interlace your fingers, use a praying position, or any other position—as long as your palms are together.
III. Focus on the Stress You Want to Leave Your Body
Envision exactly the specific stresses that are affecting you physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
IV. Do Power Breathing for 10 Seconds
Breathe rapid and powerful “belly breaths” in and out. Do this by forcefully blowing out and sucking in through your mouth.
Use your diaphragm so your belly moves out as you breathe in and moves in as you breathe out. If you feel a little lightheaded, breathe the same way but reduce the intensity.
As you do the Power Breathing, Loyd advises you to visualize something positive, whatever that might be to you in that moment. Not only does this reduce your stress as much as 30-60 minutes of exercise, or breathing or meditation alone, but it can also:
- Stimulate your cardiovascular system.
- Increase energy to the endocrine system.
- Improve immune system functioning.
- Improve your quality of sleep.
- Boost your lymphatic functioning.
So, take a deep breath (for ten seconds) and see what happens!