One of the key benefits of breathwork is to relieve stress. However, stress relief is not the only benefit it offers. It is an incredible tool to manage symptoms from anxiety and depression. It may also improve your mood, produce anti-inflammatory effects, and balance your blood pressure.
This article will review the various benefits of breathwork so you can decide if it’s right for you.
How Does Breathwork Work?
When you sense stress, your body goes into fight or flight mode. One of the effects of stress, or fight or flight is an increase in the pace of your breathing. Breathwork allows you to control your breathing and slow it down. Once this occurs, your other senses follow suit. Your heart rate slows and your blood pressure drops.
When you perform breathwork, your body is tricked into thinking that you are not stressed and you begin to feel calm. Breathwork is useful in situations where anxiety is overwhelming. But if practiced on an ongoing basis, it may produce other benefits.
If you’re curious and would like to dive a bit deeper, you can research how slowing and deepening your breath can cause your body to relax. It is a well documented phenomenon and not taken advantage near enough in our opinion.
Balances Blood Pressure
Breathwork lowers stress reducing blood pressure. It also relaxes your parasympathetic nervous system causing blood vessels to dilate so blood flows more freely. It increases blood flow to body tissues reducing blood pressure resistance.
A 2013 study established that 8 weeks of 12-minute sessions of guided breathing was effective in reducing blood pressure in participants.
Breathwork promotes relaxation to improve sleep quality. It helps you fall asleep faster and spend more time in deep sleep. Effective techniques include belly breathing, Bhramari Pranayama Breathing, 4-7-8 breathing, box breathing, and alternate nostril breathing. We talked about various different breathing techniques in a separate article we wrote called What are the different types of breathwork?
A 2018 study showed that self-regulation of breathing may be a supplemental way to treat insomnia.
Breathwork is effective in treating PTSD and other types of trauma. It invokes a state of deep relaxation that allows stored emotions to be released. It also helps deactivate the fight or flight response that may be activated when stressors are encountered.
A 2014 study established that breathing-based meditation can reduce post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms in military veterans.
Stronger Respiratory Function
Breathwork exercises your respiratory system improving its function. It is recommended for people who are recovering from Covid or other respiratory viruses. Breathwork is a great way to restore diaphragm function and increase lung capacity. One additional benefit of breathwork is that it helps those who are ill deal better with the feelings of stress and anxiety that are sometimes associated.
A 2016 study was conducted to determine the effects of breathing exercises on elderly smokers. It was found to improve muscle activity in the abdomen after just four weeks.
Better Immune Function
Breathwork has been shown to lower cortisol levels, improve blood pressure, increase autonomic function in response to stress, and boost arterial flow. These effects are all beneficial in the reduction of disease.
Deep breathing also stimulated the vagus nerve creating a sense of inner calm which suppresses inflammation that’s often related to disease.
A 2018 study found that strenuous breathing results in airway obstruction which promotes oxidative stress that causes disease. Controlled breathing opens the airways mitigating the harm of oxidative stress.
Research shows that the act of inhaling and exhaling helps you relax. This promotes mood balancing. It can help you deal with negative emotions. It can improve mood overall if practiced daily.
A study in Cell Reports Medicine showed that doing just five minutes of breathwork each day for a month can improve mood and anxiety. It may produce more benefits than the same amount of mindfulness and meditation exercises.
Reduces Addictive Behavior
Many people turn to addictive behavior to deal with stress. They may do anything from eating sweets, binge watching tv, or turning to drugs and alcohol. Breathwork presents a healthier way to deal with stress that may reduce addictive behavior. Breathwork is often used in recovery facilities to assist in the recovery from addiction.
A 2014 study established that mindfulness-based therapy could prevent addictive behavior relapse. One of the key therapeutics deployed to help with this addictive behavior is breathwork.
Breathwork can be effective in helping you focus and concentrate. Breathwork relieves stress so you are better able to concentrate on the things that most matter to you, work, family or simply yourself. It also encourages you to focus on your breathing which improves your sense of concentration in general.
A study published in the Journal of Neurophysiology shows that controlled breathing helps us pay attention to the rhythm of our breath which promotes parasympathetic nervous system activity and improves mood.
Hanu Health and Breathwork
Hanu Health is a huge proponent of breathwork. Our mobile app and mental health therapy services are designed to help you identify your stressors and then to find the best way to deal with them. We often recommend breathwork as a useful strategy.
Our biometric data helps us measure your body’s stress response. We use that information to provide personal data and feedback. We recommend exercises you can practice to improve your mental health.