In the first part of this article, we looked at the mechanics of breathing and how to do deep breathing properly and effectively.
Once you have this type of breathing down, it will become easier for you to take notice of the type of breathing that you are doing when feeling stressed or anxious. You practice deep breathing throughout the day whenever (you don’t have to wait to be frustrated to do it). For example, when you are in the car waiting for the traffic light to turn green, practice deep breathing. Or when you are in line at the supermarket, try to do 10 deep breaths in and out. The more you do it, the more routine it will feel and over time, you might just find yourself breathing deeply more often than not.
Okay, back to the health benefits. Marcelle Pick, co-founder of the Women to Women Clinic in Yarmouth, Maine, wrote an article about the benefits of deep breathing that I found during my online research on this topic. Pick referred several times to a 2005 review and analysis of several studies by Richard Brown, M.D., and Patricia Gerbarg, M.D. that led to them concluding that yogic deep-breathing techniques (much like what we just went over above), are “extremely effective in handling depression, anxiety and stress-related disorders.” Brown and Gerbarg, Pick said, found that deep breathing may serve as an additional therapy to conventional medical treatment, or in some cases as a substitute, for treating a variety of psychological disorders.
More specifically, deep breathing helps trigger something called the parasympathetic nervous system through what some experts call the relaxation response. Brown and Gerbarg wrote that the sympathetic nervous system, which goes to work when we are stressed or anxious, increases our levels of cortisol and adrenaline as well as starts up our fight or flight response. Basically, being under chronic stress will make our sympathetic nervous system feel like it has to be on all of the time. This in turn leads to all sorts of health issues like depression, anxiety, insomnia, muscle tension and dozens of other problems.