What Happens To Your Mind When You Practice Deep Breathing?

According to The Breath Effect, humans average 17,000 breaths every day. As busy humans who are always on the go, we often aren't conscious of our breathing habits. Think about it — when was the last time you took a few moments during the day to fully inhale and exhale, using your diaphragm? If you can't recall or the answer is rarely, it's time to change that and add deep breathing into your routine.

Learning to breathe properly is the easiest form of self-care. According to the National Cancer Institute, deep breathing — sometimes referred to as abdominal breathing and diaphragmatic breathing — is an easy way to unwind and can be done almost anywhere. To practice, you'll want to breathe through your nose and exhale out through your mouth. Don't breathe too fast — the key here is slow breaths that you can feel down to your abdomen.  Per Urban Balance, deep breathing has multiple health benefits including slowing your heartbeat, lowering your blood pressure, and improving digestion and posture.

The practice of deep breathing not only benefits physical health but can also improve your mental state and function. Read on to learn about the specific benefits of deep breathing has on your mind.

How does the mind benefit from deep breathing?

It's common for the brain to become overwhelmed with stress and anxiety due to work, relationships, and everyday life, but deep breathing is an easy tool that can lessen the severity of stress by training your mind to relax. According to Forbes, the practice of deep breathing activates the vagus nerve in your brain, which then triggers your parasympathetic nervous system's relaxation response, allowing you to feel calmer. Implementing deep breathing into your daily routine can eventually strengthen your mind, making it more flexible and capable of handling stressful triggers.

Deep breathing is a satisfying practice that can relax you before going to sleep, as well as sharpen your mind's function. Per Somnox, studies show that regular deep breathing exercises can improve your attention span and self-control. When you're trying to go to sleep, stay focused, or are feeling overwhelmed, try taking a few deep breaths. Like anything new, the more you practice the easier and more natural deep breathing will become.

What are ways to implement deep breathing in your life?

Deep breathing is a conscious choice one takes that is mutually beneficial for the body and mind. To start a healthy deep breathing habit,  The Emily Program recommends developing the habit of taking 10 deep breaths before reaching for your phone in the morning and 10 before you go to sleep. Eventually, you can work up to doing deep breathing exercises throughout the day, even when you feel relaxed. Try deep breathing on car rides, while sitting at your desk at work, while watching TV, or while listening to music. One way to practice deep breathing is to lie on your back with one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. If you don't have room to lie down, you can deep breathe while sitting in a chair, with your hands in the same position.

Physical activities like Pilates, yoga, and tai chi can help you to develop good deep breathing habits while also helping other aspects of your body. There are also multiple online breathing exercises designed to help you go to sleep faster, focus, and de-stress that can be found through breathwork apps, such as Universal Breathing: Pranayama. Utilizing these tools to practice deep breathing regularly will develop your mind for the better.