Long term, this shallow breathing pattern can take away our energy or contribute to feelings of anxiousness. Air that becomes trapped in the lungs can also lead to shortness of breath and discomfort.
What Is Deep Breathing?
Deep breathing is simply a way to breathe with more intention. Deep breathing allows you to have a greater volume of air, and it allows for a breathing that’s at a slower speed than what is typical.Deep breathing allows for better fresh air intake—on a deep and productive inhalation—as well as more complete air exhalation—allowing our bodies to more fully exhale used or unneeded air from the lungs. This exchange of air is crucial to our health and to our well-being.
When Can You Practice Deep Breathing?Deep breathing practices are commonly used in exercise or as a method of relaxation. Breathing deeply can have profound and positive health benefits, including lowering stress, promoting a sense of calm, and improving daily life for individuals with breathing challenges. Deep breathing is also a very effective strategy to combat the dyspnea cycle or inactivity cycle that slowly makes a person avoid activities and get further deconditioned when they have COPD.
Even if you don’t have lung disease, learning how to breathe more deeply allows you to have the ability to follow a different breathing rhythm.
Deep Breathing for COPD
Our breathing habits are an important innate skill. Being able to breathe deeply is a powerful extension of this skill that can impact everyone who tries it. There are certain groups of people for whom deeper breathing can be especially life changing.
Breathing better improves the day-to-day life for individuals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Breathing conditions such as COPD, bronchitis, and emphysema are challenging health conditions that impacts a person’s ability to breathe well. Symptoms such as chest tightness, shortness of breath, and increased mucus in the lungs can often worsen over time without the help of breathing exercises.
Deep breathing positively impacts people with COPD, allowing for better exhalation of trapped air, reduction in the uncomfortable feelings associated with shortness of breath, and a lowered level of exertion during daily activities. What’s more is that the that people suffering from COPD who utilize deep breathing exercises experience greater improvements in exercise, reduced shortness of breath, and improved quality of life when compared to those who do not utilize deep breathing exercises.
Deep Breathing to Reduce Stress & Anxiety
Stress and anxiety are common in our fast paced, high pressure lives. Being able to exhale in a deeper, more prolonged way allows people to manage stress and anxiety in a very positive way.
Shallow or improper breathing can upset the oxygen/carbon dioxide exchange inside the lungs, contribute to anxiety, panic attacks or fatigue, and elevate our feelings of stress. How we breathe is a powerful resource–and when used correctly—it can make quite a big difference in easing stress and anxiety in our day-to-day hustle and bustle.
More proper breathing also is an effective way to lower cortisol, adrenaline, and other stress hormones is to pause and take time for more controlled, deep breaths.
Deep Breathing As a Part of Your Mindful Practice
People who work towards mindfulness, meditation, and other focus practices will find that breathing is a tool that can be utilized to direct attention, find or maintain a state of calm, and release tension or frustration.
Mindful breathing is a simple yet powerful practice that brings attention and intention to the rhythm and flow of breathing. In turn, this stillness and focus brings us to the present moment, provides greater mental clarity, and it can also reduce overall stress on the body and the mind.
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has become one of the most common disorders affecting children today, and also affects many adults. Improving the way we breathe helps soothe and balance the autonomic nervous system. (This is the part of your nervous system that works automatically, in the background, controlling things you don’t have to think about.)
Regulating the autonomic nervous system with more controlled, focused, and intentional deep breathing allows people with ADHD to become more attentive, regulated, and relaxed.
How to Practice Deep BreathingFollow these steps to practice your deep breathing:
- Find a place where you can get comfortable. Remember to relax your shoulders. Place one hand on your abdomen and the other on your chest. As you breathe in and out, focus on only moving the hand that is on your abdomen. Try to keep your chest hand still. When the abdomen expands as it fills with air, this is a truer deep inhalation and exhalation. When our chest rises and falls with breathing, this is a more shallow, incomplete inhalation and exhalation.
- Breathe in through your nose to a count of three, inhaling deep into your torso, filling your belly with air. Try to keep the shoulders relaxed and down.
- Exhale through your nose to a count of three, allowing your belly to deflate, as if you are watching a balloon deflate. You can even say the word “calm” while exhaling.
- Repeat this technique five times, practicing it three to four times per day.
PEP Buddy is Your Personal Breathing Coach
PEP Buddy is a simple, portable, clinically proven medical device that reduces breathlessness so you can increase your activity level. PEP Buddy can also help to prevent significant declines in blood oxygen levels during activity.
This blog is for educational purposes only; talk to your provider to understand recommendations specific to you.