Andy Garland Therapies - Counselling Cardiff - Mental Health Services Cardiff - Cardiff Therapists - self-help - breath work

It's free and incomparably easy to practice, deep breathing is a pretty miraculous exercise that most of us take for granted. It can reduce anxiety, bring you into the present moment through mindfulness, and even help you remember how to respond to your specific stressors. Deep breathing psychological effects help slow down our racing minds and calms us down, as well as many physiological benefits.

Before understanding deep breathing's physiological benefits, you first have to grasp how your body responds to stress. As most people have experienced, when you're worried, upset, or anxious, you can feel it viscerally — your heart starts to beat faster and faster, you can feel dizzy, and blood rushes toward your heart and your brain.

The system responsible for this is your sympathetic nervous system, better known as your fight or flight response.

Evolutionarily, you'll only develop this stress response if you're being attacked by a predator. Over time we've experienced so much chronic, low-level stress on our day-to-day life, you can have this low-level activation of the stress response all the time.

The vagus nerve is the longest cranial nerve in your body. It connects your brain to many important organs throughout the body, including the gut (intestines, stomach), heart and lungs. In fact, the word "vagus" means "wanderer" in Latin, which accurately represents how the nerve wanders all over the body and reaches various organs. The vagus nerve is also a key part of your parasympathetic "rest and digest" nervous system. It influences your breathing, digestive function and heart rate, all of which can have a huge impact on your mental health.

Vagal tone is an internal biological process that represents the activity of the vagus nerve. Increasing your vagal tone activates the parasympathetic nervous system, and having higher vagal tone means that your body can relax faster after stress. Researchers discovered a positive feedback loop between high vagal tone, positive emotions, and good physical health. In other words, the more you increase your vagal tone, the more your physical and mental health will improve.

If your vagal tone is low, don't worry - you can take steps to increase it by stimulating your vagus nerve. This will allow you to more effectively respond to the emotional and physiological symptoms of your brain and mental illness. Researchers have also found that exposing yourself to cold on a regular basis can lower your sympathetic "fight or flight" response and increase parasympathetic activity through the vagus nerve. Try finishing your next shower with at least 30 seconds of cold water and see how you feel.

Andy Garland Therapies - Counselling Cardiff - Mental Health Services Cardiff - Cardiff Therapists - daily breath work
Andy Garland Therapies - Counselling Cardiff - Mental Health Services Cardiff - Cardiff Therapists - daily breath work

breathing with your belly

Diaphragmatic breathing is a type of a breathing exercise that helps strengthen your diaphragm, an important muscle that helps you breathe. This breathing exercise is also sometimes called belly breathing or abdominal breathing. It has a number of benefits that affect your entire body. It's the basis for almost all meditation or relaxation techniques, which can lower your stress levels, reduce your blood pressure, and regulate other important bodily processes.

Diaphragmatic breathing has many benefits. It's at the center of the practice of meditation, which is known to help manage the symptoms of conditions as wide-ranging as irritable bowel syndrome, depression and anxiety, and sleeplessness. One of the biggest benefits of diaphragmatic breathing is reducing stress.

Being stressed keeps your immune system from working at full capacity. This can make you more susceptible to numerous conditions. And over time, long-term (chronic) stress, even from seemingly minor inconveniences like traffic, issues with loved ones, or other daily concerns can cause you to develop anxiety or depression. Some deep breathing exercises can help you reduce these effects of stress.

The diaphragm is a dome-shaped respiratory muscle found near the bottom of your ribcage, right below your chest. When you inhale and exhale air, the diaphragm and other respiratory muscles around your lungs contract. The diaphragm does most of the work during the inhalation part. During inhalation, your diaphragm contracts so that your lungs can expand into the extra space and let in as much air as is necessary.

If you're interested in trying breathing exercises to reduce stress or anxiety, and improve your mental wellbeing, you may want to consider including it into your everyday routine. Breathing exercises don't have to take a lot of time out of your day. It's really just about setting aside some time to pay attention to your breathing. Take the time to experiment with different types of breathing techniques, and dedicate a certain amount of time at least a few times per week - you'll start to see the positive impact it can have your whole life.

You will get the most benefit if you do it regularly, as part of your daily routine. You can do it standing up, sitting in a chair that supports your back, or lying on a bed or yoga mat on the floor. Make yourself as comfortable as you can. If you can, loosen any clothes that restrict your breathing. If you're lying down, place your arms a little bit away from your sides, with the palms up. Let your legs be straight, or bend your knees so your feet are flat on the floor. If you're sitting, place your arms on the chair arms.

Relaxation doesn't have to take up lots of your time. Just stepping away from something stressful for a few minutes or taking time away from your normal routines and thoughts can give you enough space and distance to feel calmer, so just breathe!

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