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How to Reduce Stress Fast With Proper Breathing

Updated on February 10, 2014

The way we breathe and the quality of air we breathe can naturally assist in reducing stress fast.

Breathing is an essence of life, an automatic body function that is switched on the moment we are born and we are pronounced dead when it stops. Learning the ‘proper’ way to breathe good quality air and mastering the art of breathing can have positive emotional and physical health benefits.

We all know stress is unavoidable, especially in today’s fast-paced and busy life. What matters is how we identify, deal with and manage stress effective as prolonged stress can be fatal. Scientific studies have shown that proper breathing can help relief stress and stress-related conditions by soothing the autonomic nervous system.

When we are babies, we naturally breathe the proper way. But as we grow older, our bodies “fight or flight” response to stress changes our breathing. We take breathing for granted and do not pay attention as to whether we are breathing correctly or taking shallow breaths.

The importance of breathing properly

Breathing well is essential for a good supply of blood. Full, deep inspirations of pure fresh air fills the lungs with oxygen and purifies the blood, giving life to every cell in all parts of the body. Thus, breathing well is necessary to give our bloodstream a good supply of oxygen to enable it to function at maximum health without being poisoned. Good respiration soothes the nerves; stimulates the appetite; improves digestion; and induces sound, refreshing sleep.

Our body’s most important nutritional requirement is oxygen. Man may live many days without food, a few days without water but only a few minutes without air (oxygen). In our efforts to live healthy lives, we normally concentrate on eating healthy food, exercise, drinking plenty water, taking adequate rest, etc, which are all essentials. But we do not pay attention to oxygen and the way we breathe.

Technique of Proper Breathing

Proper breathing

The proper way to breathe is to inhale deeply to full expansion or tightening of the diaphragm, hold, then exhale slowly and completely. It is best to concentrate and meditate while doing this and imagine positive things so that all negative elements are thrown out during exhalation.

Deep breathing uses the diaphragm, which is a sheet-like muscle that lies underneath the lungs. The diaphragm contracts when we inhale, sucking air into the lungs, and relaxes when we exhale, pushing air out of the lungs. To learn deep breathing, lie flat on your back with the hand placed on the stomach. Breathe in deeply and raise your hand. Practice this until the abdominal muscles always rise automatically when you breathe, indicating that the entire lung is expanding.

Shallow breathing using the middle and upper parts of the lungs is not proper breathing. Shallow breathing creates an insufficient supply of oxygen, causing the lower portion of lungs to be filled with stale air. Higher concentrations of carbon-dioxide and toxins which should be removed in exhalation from the lungs is retained and the blood becomes impure. This also affects the other organs of the body such as the stomach, liver and the brain. Research has also shown that oxygen deficiency in the cells can cause cancer. Proper breathing is therefore essentially an immune booster and illness zapper.

Does the way we sit or stand affect our breathing?

Yes. The lungs can expand properly only when a person sits and stands straight, otherwise the lung sacs that take in air are compressed. Practice how to sit and stand straight with the head high and back straight.

Breathing and stress

When a person is under stress, the heart beats faster in an irregular way. This will cause the person to take small, shallow breaths, using the shoulders and upper lungs, rather than the diaphragm to inhale and exhale. This empties too much carbon dioxide out of the blood but not enough oxygen, upsetting the body’s balance of gases. Slow, deep breathing with sufficient supply of oxygen to the blood slows down the heart rate, relaxes the muscles which becomes stiff when under stress, calms the mind, and lowers blood pressure.

Kalibobo - Coast Watcher's WWII Memorial.  My favorite place to relax and breathe in the pure air from the Bismark Sea
Kalibobo - Coast Watcher's WWII Memorial. My favorite place to relax and breathe in the pure air from the Bismark Sea | Source

The quality of the air we breathe

Properly breathing good quality of air can reduce stress and induce relation to the body, mind and emotions. The best air is outdoors at beaches, oceans, waterfalls, forests, parks, during thunderstorms and in sunshine. In these natural environments the air is pure and fresh. Jogging or doing exercises in parks and along the waterfront of beaches is excellent for exhaling toxins and deeply inhaling good supply of pure air.

We spend one-third of our lives in the bedroom sleeping so make the bedroom environment a healthy one where you can breathe fresh air while sleeping. Use organic bedding that do not emit toxic gases. Have a good ventilation and keep windows open to allow fresh air to enter the bedroom. Sleeping in ill-ventilated rooms will make you feel feverish and sluggish and this will not help if you want to combat stress fast. Fill your bedroom and home with green plants to help filter and clean the air.

Copyright © 2013 Kejanny. All rights reserved.


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    • Kejanny profile image

      Kejanny 4 years ago from Port Moresby

      Thanks eHealer. Appreciate your encouraging comments.

    • eHealer profile image

      Deborah 4 years ago from Las Vegas

      Great hub Kejanny! Insightful and very helpful to people with stress and overwhelming lifestyles. Pinned and facebooked so others can share and learn. Thank you!