Breathing exercises can be one of the most useful resources to tap into to help decrease stress and anxiety. We already take over 20,000 breaths a day, and it’s something you can do anywhere at any time. Learning how to become conscious of and control your breathing is a truly beneficial skill to improve your physical and mental health.

In our current society much of our stress is internally perpetuated, as well as chronic, meaning that this abnormal state in our body persists, instead of returning to optimal function or homeostasis. Reduced digestion, increased blood sugar and blood pressure can lead to weight gain and increased risk of serious chronic conditions. Using breathing techniques can actually help turn off the parasympathetic nervous system and the fight or flight response, reducing respiration rate, heart rate and blood pressure and inducing a state of calm.

We are often so caught up in the busyness of our day that we don’t pay attention to our breathing pattern, which typically comes from our chest and supports shallow breathing. Belly or diaphragmatic breathing, is true deep breathing that allows the full expanding and contracting of the abdomen. This breathing technique helps relax muscles, relieve tension and increase oxygen and blood flow to cells and tissues throughout the body.