The Emotional Benefits of Breathing

Are You Breathing Properly For Better Health and Lower Anxiety?

Why is it important to control breathing? So many of us are shallow breathers. We breath into the top part of the lungs. When we get stressed, our breathing gets rapid and if we shallow breathe rapidly, we can get dizzy and confused. Dr. Andrew Weil, MD, a well-known pioneer in the field of integrative medicine has said “If I had to limit my advice on healthier living to just one tip, it would be to learn to breathe correctly”.  Brenda Stockdale, director of mind-body medicine at the RC Cancer Centers in Atlanta notes that “Rapid, shallow breathing sends a message to our adrenal glands that we’re in fight-or-flight mode, and they begin pumping out stress hormones like cortisol”.

If you or your child struggle with anxiety, consider these amazing benefits of deep, slow, controlled breathing:

Our brains need oxygen to think clearly and problem solve. Rapid, shallow breathing – or even holding the breath, which many do when they are panicked – adds to the problem and the panic. By inhaling and exhaling fully, you can help your body be more efficient at supplying oxygen to your brain.

Take your mind off anxious thoughts. When we learn to control our breathing and focus on controlling our breathing, we are taking the focus off the anxious thoughts and placing it on the breath. This is calming in itself.

Deep, slow breathing is relaxing and helps stop the flow of adrenaline. When the body is relaxed, it stops pumping out adrenaline. The sooner we can stop it pumping into our systems, the sooner we will return to a calm state.

The best way to teach your child to breathe for anxiety reduction is to model it for them. Demonstrate  it, out loud, while showing them the process. When you are feeling frustrated, worried, or upset (and when it is an appropriate situation to share with your child without giving them extra stuff to worry about), try something like this: I am so nervous about giving this presentation at work today. I am shaking and my stomach is upset. Ok, I need to calm down. (Take a big breath, close your eyes and inhale slowly….exhale…Do this at least twice.) That helps a lot. I’m going to do this when I get to work and again just before my presentation.

In this short, simple example, several important things have happened. You’ve stated the problem & how you feel, calmed yourself through deep breathing, and come up with a plan of action. Whenever you can, talk through what you are doing. Name your feeling(s) and demonstrate calming breathing. Show your child how you problem solve. This is something that is so beneficial, it is worth repeating often. Make it part of your parenting skill set.

Article Author: Valerie Ostara is the world’s first Closet Monster Battle Coach and founder of Sound–Mind.ca, an educational and coaching organization dedicated to defeating the anxiety monsters that lurk in the closets and under the beds of our children’s minds. Through our effective and empowering strategies, children and parents learn the skills and self-management techniques guaranteed to bring peace of mind.