Can focused breathing help improve your mood and overall health? Find out more about the benefits of diaphragmatic breathing here.
Improve Your Mood with Focused Breathing Exercises
What Is Deep or Focused Breathing?
Whether it’s running, swimming, or any other sport, you need to have good control over your breath. The ability to take a deep breath and control your breath is essential.
Deep breathing not only helps to boost stamina but also reduces stress, promotes relaxation, and improves mood.
Deep breathing exercises can help you gain proper control over your breathing and increase your lung capacity.
Diaphragmatic breathing, or deep breathing, has a ton of benefits and centers around the practice of meditation, which has been shown to help conditions such as anxiety, depression, and sleeplessness. So if you need a confidence or energy boost, try incorporating deep breathing exercises into your day.
Here are some breathing exercises to help you hit your fitness goals and feel better overall:
- Guided meditation technique
- Alternate nostril breathing
- Balanced breathing technique
- Deep belly breathing
- Bellows breathing technique
- Relaxation breathing technique
What Are the Benefits of Deep Breathing?
Deep breathing brings awareness to the breath and helps control your breath. Learning to breathe deeply and effectively is the most natural way to encourage self-control and confidence.
Deep breathing techniques have been shown to have both physiological and psychological effects. One of the biggest benefits of deep breathing is reducing stress.
Studies have shown that breathing exercises can reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol as well as have further effects on brain hormones associated with depression and stress. Deep breathing is an underrated practice that can play a huge role in your training and overall well-being.
Do you find yourself catching your breath when facing a problem? If you feel like you need to take deep breaths, you may be experiencing some sort of anxiety attack.
Shallow breathing is often linked to anxiety and stress. This type of shallow breathing often happens when you are in a fight-or-flight mode, signaling the body that you’re not safe.
Taking long, deep breaths fills your body with oxygen, releases tension, and brings your heartbeat back to the normal rate. Unfortunately, this is a common condition among Americans.
If you are one of the 40 million adults in the United States affected by an anxiety disorder, deep breathing may be able to provide relief.
From improving your mood and self-confidence to building strength and learning to control your breath, it can be a game-changer.
Here are a few of the benefits of deep breathing:
- Builds endurance and strength
- Improves core muscle stability
- Lowers stress and anxiety
- Helps you to relax
- Lowers your blood pressure
- Improves speed of recovery
- Controls shortness of breath
- Improves digestion
Incorporating deep, conscious breath into your daily routine is a simple and easy way to boost your mood and reap the benefits.
How to Breathe Correctly
Deep breathing, or natural breathing, is done through the diaphragm, an organ found under the lungs. Learning to breathe deeply and properly requires a little more than just inhaling and exhaling.
You may have heard the term belly breathing, which is referred to as pranayama breathing in yoga.
During deep breathing, you not only engage your diaphragm to expand your rib cage but also breathe further into your abdomen.
The most basic type of deep breathing is done by inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth. Focus on your breathing in a rhythmic way that really engages your core.
Slow down the process and really hone in on the speed of your breath. Deep breathing can help you de-stress, live longer, and be happier.
It’s important to practice focused breathing or deep breathing to help you get rid of negative emotions and avoid anxiety attacks.
You may think focused breathing is simply about taking deep breaths, but it’s more than that. There are several breathing techniques to help you learn to control your breathing and see the benefits of deep breathing.
The various meditation and breathing exercises below help you ease into a calmer and more balanced emotional state.
Powerful Deep Breathing Exercises
Here are a few breathing exercises for anxiety you can follow when facing stressful situations:
1. Guided Meditation Technique
Guided meditation is usually performed with a teacher or recorded audio from mental wellness apps such as Headspace. The aim of a guided deep breathing exercise is to help eliminate stress and reduce muscle tension.
Although the audio or instructor guides you throughout this mindful breathing exercise, you can also follow the steps below:
- Begin either lying down or cross-legged in a comfortable seat.
- Close your eyes and focus on the guided meditation, visualizing natural surroundings.
- Take deep, slow breaths and try to clear your mind of negative thoughts.
- Keep your focus on positive images while breathing deeply.
- The duration of the breathing exercise depends on the instructor or the audio guide.
This breathing exercise helps to increase mindfulness and flush out negative thoughts, improving focus and mood.
2. Alternate Nostril Breathing
Alternate nostril breathing gives you a boost of energy and makes you feel revitalized. It works to calm down a rapid heart rate during panic attacks and stressful situations.
It can help to soothe your nervous system and encourage quality sleep and relaxation.
Relax your nerves and fall asleep better by following the steps below:
- Sit comfortably in a seated position.
- Relax and take a few deep breaths.
- Bring your right hand to your face and place your thumb on your right nostril, closing it.
- Shut your eyes and take a deep breath through your left nostril.
- Hold the breath for one count then cover the left nostril with your ring finger.
- Exhale through the right nostril.
- Continue the pattern for five minutes or until you feel more relaxed.
3. Balanced Breathing Technique
This breathing technique is ideal for improving lung capacity and shortness of breath. Try practicing this technique just before bed.
It can promote relaxation, therefore, improving sleep. Follow the steps below for this relaxation breathing technique:
- Start by taking a long deep breath through your nose while counting to four in your head.
- Then, exhale through your mouth counting from four to one. Make sure you breathe deep into the belly.
- Once you feel you’ve got the hang out of the basics of this technique, start counting to six, then to eight on each inhale and exhale.
- Continue this breathing exercise for two minutes, keeping the body relaxed.
- After two minutes, open your eyes and slowly uncross your legs, feel your energy shift towards relaxation.
4. Deep Belly Breathing
Belly breathing, often referred to as yogic breathing, helps to stimulate the relaxation response, tone core muscles, and improve posture.
So if you’re looking to incorporate focused or deep breathing exercises into your workout routine, then use this method to cool down. Just follow the steps below:
- To try this breathing technique, start either lying down or in a comfortable seat.
- Bring one hand to your belly and one hand to your heart.
- Close your eyes and take deep slow breaths, feel your hands move up and down with each breath.
- Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Keep breathing deeply for as long as you need.
- Beginners may do three cycles of this exercise while others continue it for up to five to 10 minutes.
5. Bellows Breathing Technique
If you feel a bit down and sluggish and want to raise your energy levels, try bellows breathing. This breathing method aims to help you become more alert and energized.
To do this breathing exercise, follow the steps below:
- Breathe in and out in equal measures through your nose while keeping your mouth closed and relaxed. This breathing exercise can get a bit noisy.
- Follow this breathing pattern three times making your diaphragm expand and contract like a bellows.
- Try doing one to three breaths per second, gradually increasing the number of breaths you take every second.
- Breathe normally after each round.
- Practice doing ten breaths until you feel comfortable doing the exercise for one minute.
Additional tip: For first-timers, do not go beyond 15 seconds. You can then add five seconds of bellows breath every time you practice this method.
6. Relaxation Breathing Technique
Also known as the 4-7-8 breathing exercise, it’s one of the easiest relaxation exercises for stress. You can do this practically anywhere, but it’s best to do this with your back straight.
Before starting the exercise, put your tongue right behind your front teeth, touching the roof of the mouth. Breathe around it when following the steps below:
- Practice breathing out through your mouth, around your tongue, making a whoosh sound.
- Breathe in quietly through the nose with your mouth closed in four counts.
- Afterwards, count to seven while holding your breath.
- Then, breathe out through the mouth in eight counts.
- Repeat the entire process three more times for a total of four cycles.
Put those breathing exercises to use by following this self-healing meditation video by Zain Saraswati Jamal from Sunwarrior:
If you find breathing deeply awkward at first, it may be because you’re used to breathing with your chest.
Deep breathing is a natural and free way to take control of your mood and well-being. By practicing deep breathing daily and making it a part of your routine, it can help to increase your endurance, strength, focus, and self-confidence.
Aside from focused breathing, better sleep can also improve your overall mood. Add four droppers of Sunwarrior Magnesium Liquid to your drink for better sleep and improved heart and brain function.
Which focused breathing exercises do you want to try? Share your feedback in the comments section below!
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on May 15, 2019, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.