Safety Tip of the Week: Benefits of deep breathing

This week Wendy Couture, the district’s safety and risk reduction manager, provides information about the benefits of deep breathing at work or at home.

Deep Breathing

Deep breathing can release stress and provide noticeable health benefits. Most people will likely feel calmer after performing deep breathing exercises, and may trade feelings of anger or frustration for a focused, relaxed state of mind. Deep breathing is sometimes used to treat anxiety disorders, sleep problems and even general body aches and pains.

Deep breathing releases endorphins throughout the body. Endorphins are feel-good, natural painkillers created by our own bodies. When practicing deep breathing, the upward and downward movement of the diaphragm helps remove toxins from the organs, promoting better blood flow. Oxygen provides energy, which means that we are creating an increase in our energy level by breathing deeply. Learning a few techniques and taking just a few moments each day to practice some deep breathing exercises can decrease stress, relax your mind and body.

Here are seven simple steps for breathing as provided by WebMD:

1. Sit in a comfortable, not-too- soft chair that lets you keep your back straight and your feet flat on the floor.

2. Put your hands gently on your belly, right below your ribcage.

3. Ready to take a breath? Expand your belly, drawing breath in through your nose. When you do this right, you will feel your hands move slightly.

4. Don’t hold your breath. Open your mouth a little. Slowly let your belly contract, gently pushing your breath out your mouth.

5. Repeat this for a few minutes. Try not to think of anything in particular. If thoughts wander into your mind, let them wander back out. Don’t try to push the stress out of your body — just let it go.

6. Practice this for several minutes each day. Work up to about five or 10 minutes at a sitting.

7. Do this once a day. If something is stressing you out, do a few minutes of this deep breathing until you feel calm.

There are many benefits of deep breathing include a reduction in stress and blood pressure, strengthening of abdominal and intestinal muscles and relief of general body aches and pains. Deep breathing also promotes better blood flow, releases toxins from the body and aids in healthy sleep. These benefits result in an increased energy level.

The secret is simply to breathe, deeply and often. In addition, focusing on your breathing during physical activities, such as exercise, can help you become more mindful of your body and improving self-awareness.