According to research, breathing is a simple yet effective way to reduce stress. When we are stressed, our breathing tends to become shallow and rapid. This type of breathing activates the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the “fight or flight” response. On the other hand, slow and deep breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes relaxation.
One study found that just five minutes of slow, deep breathing significantly reduced stress and anxiety in participants. Another study found that a simple breathing technique called “4-7-8” (inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 7 seconds, exhale for 8 seconds) effectively reduced stress and improved sleep.
Several other breathing techniques can be used to reduce stress. One example is “box breathing,” which involves breathing in for a count of four, holding for a count of four, breathing out for a count of four, and holding for a count of four. This can be repeated for several cycles.
In addition to its stress-reducing effects, deep breathing has several other benefits. For example, it can improve cardiovascular health, boost the immune system, and even reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
So next time you’re feeling stressed, try taking a few deep breaths and see if it helps. You may be surprised at how effective this simple technique can be.