Breathwork: How to achieve rapid stress relief and mental clarity

Breathwork is a powerful technique that can improve your life in various ways, as psychologist Mark Travers PhD, explains to Forbes.

This practice involves specific breathing exercises to reduce stress and enhance mental clarity. Here are three key ways breathwork can benefit you [1]:

Emotional regulation

Emotions can sometimes overwhelm us, leading to impulsive reactions. Breathwork provides a valuable tool for emotional regulation. 

When you consciously regulate your breath, you activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which calms emotions and reduces impulsivity [2].

This allows you to respond to situations more thoughtfully and make better choices. Over time, breathwork can help you develop emotional resilience, enabling you to navigate life’s challenges easily.

Enhanced mental clarity

Breathwork can also sharpen your mental clarity. Our minds are often cluttered with distractions and racing thoughts, making it challenging to concentrate and make decisions. Practicing intentional, deep breathing can clear mental fog and improve your cognitive function.

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Deep breaths increase oxygen supply to the brain, promoting alertness and mental sharpness [3]. This enhanced focus can boost productivity and decision-making abilities in your daily life.

Stress reduction

One of the primary benefits of breathwork is its ability to reduce stress rapidly. When stressed, your body goes into “fight or flight” mode, releasing stress hormones like cortisol [4]. This physiological response can harm your overall health if it occurs frequently.

However, controlled breathing techniques can activate your body’s relaxation response, counteracting stress hormones and promoting a sense of calm.

Focusing on your breath diverts your attention away from stressors, helping you regain control over your emotions.

Breathwork can be incorporated into your daily routine in the following ways. To reap the benefits of breathwork, you can follow these simple steps:

How to do breathwork

1. Count your breath

Some people find it helpful to count breaths to stay focused. Inhale for a count of four, hold for four and exhale for a count of six. Adjust the counts to what feels comfortable for you [5].

2. Find a quiet space

Select a quiet and comfortable place where you won’t be disturbed.

3. Focus on your breath

Close your eyes and take slow, deep breaths. Inhale deeply through your nose, allowing your abdomen to rise as you fill your lungs. Exhale slowly through your mouth.

4. Mindful awareness

As you continue breathing, pay attention to the sensation of each breath. Notice how your body responds to the rhythm of your breath.

5. Practice regularly

Consistency is vital. Incorporate this practice into your daily routine, especially during stressful moments or when you need mental clarity.

6. Posture matters

Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. Ensure that your back is straight to allow for unrestricted breathing.

7. Seek guidance

Consider attending a breathwork class or working with a trained practitioner to learn more advanced techniques and ensure you get the most out of your practice.

Breathwork is a simple yet potent tool that can significantly enhance your life. By practicing intentional breathing techniques, you can reduce stress, improve mental clarity and gain better control over your emotions.

It’s a valuable addition to your daily routine, promoting physical and mental well-being. So, take a deep breath and start experiencing the positive changes breathwork can bring.

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Get to know more about this study from Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback.

[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/traversmark/2023/10/03/3-ways-breathwork-can-enhance-your-life-according-to-a-psychologist/
[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6137615/
[3] https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/relaxation-techniques-breath-control-helps-quell-errant-stress-response
[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK541120/
[5] https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324417

Photograph: bialasiewicz/Envato
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