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The Power of Breathing Deeply

Breathing is something we do naturally, without conscious thought, every moment of our day. But it's amazing what happens when you give some conscious attention to your breath. When you slow it down, when you take in more oxygen, and when you lengthen the breath, there are so many immediate benefits. In fact, because of these benefits, deep breathing is widely used among mental health and medical professionals.

Sometimes, when you're at school or work or even at home, you might have an incredibly stressful moment. It might feel as though every part of you is being pulled in a different direction and you don't know yourself anymore. Your family and friends each want a different part of you. When you feel stressful pressure, intense frustration, or even anger at life itself, you might need to take five minutes for yourself and breathe. It might sound cliché, but there are many incredible benefits to breathing. The following are a few benefits of regularly finding time for breathing deeply:

1. Improves the quality of oxygen: When you take in a deep breath, you send more oxygen to the cells in your body. Every cell uses oxygen as fuel. In fact, oxygen is a vital part of your body's health. When you take a deep breath, you let a little more oxygen into the bloodstream and you vitalize your cells.

2. Calms you down. Because of the increase of oxygen in your bloodstream, there is an immediate effect of calm on the body when you take a deep breath. And according to research, deep breathing has been shown to increase the brain's release of certain neurotransmitters that positively influence your mood. If you were to become conscious of your breathing right in the middle of feeling afraid, for instance, you could shift your physiological state. Because of this, deep breathing could be the coping tool you use instead of pulling out a cigarette, accepting the offer of a joint, or drinking alcohol.

3. Relaxes the muscles: When there is more oxygen in the body and you're beginning to feel more calm because of a relaxed nervous system, the muscles usually follow. As you might have noticed, breathing deeply can help you relax muscles that you might otherwise keep tense during stress.

4. Lowers blood pressure: When the central nervous system and the muscles are relaxed, so are the arteries and veins in the body. This allows for greater blood flow and lowered blood pressure.

5. Strengthens the heart and lungs. Because of all the benefits listed above, the body is essentially relaxed. And because of this, the heart also feels a sense of ease. There is less pressure on the heart to work hard. Furthermore, deep breathing brings more oxygen to the heart and allows both the heart and the lungs to work together efficiently and effortlessly.

6. Improves your mood. As mentioned already, the increased oxygen can have an immediate effect on the brain, which facilitates a change in mood. In fact, research on the effects of deep breathing has also shown this to be true.

It's amazing how taking a deep breath can create a change in your state of being almost immediately. When you're in a stressful moment, feeling intense emotions, or experiencing a craving to use drugs or alcohol, take a deep breath and notice how it changes your thoughts, feelings, and choice. 

 

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Chris Massman is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. Chris' training includes Family Systems Theory along with numerous other theories. She believes therapy is an art and chooses the theory she feels will most benefit the individual sitting in front of her. Her specialty lies is in the field of Chemical Dependency and Addictions. Chris is currently seeing individuals, couples and families. Chris is a Clinical member of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists as well as the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. Chris has two locations including Tarzana and Agoura Hills, CA.