Health tips – Small changes with big effects. 3. Practise Deep Breathing

The 3rd article in our small changes with big effects series.

Practise deep breathing

© Joe Waldron

One of the things that has made a big difference to my life, and which is very simple to do, is to practise a bit of deep breathing. When I feel stressed or when I’m awake in the middle of the night and struggling to go back to sleep, which is quite common, I do a breathing exercise called 4-2-4.

I breathe in for a count of four, hold it for two, then breathe out to a count of four.

Deep breathing switches on your parasympathetic nervous system, which acts like a brake, calming your body down. Long, deep breaths will slow your heart and also reduce your blood pressure. That way it reduces anxiety.

Deep breathing can also be an effective way of dealing with pain. Chronic pain is closely linked to stress and learning how to do ‘controlled breathing’ is an important part of treatment for managing both.

Read Dr Mosley’s full advice on deep breathing

Physio.co.uk says the benefits of deep breathing exercises are:

The main benefit of deep breathing exercises is to allow air to get right to the bottom of the lungs to help mobilise secretions, by clearing secretions you significantly decrease the risk of developing a chest infection. Other benefits include:

  • Improved respiratory function (gas exchange)
  • Increased lung volumes
  • Improved chest expansion
  • Promote relaxation
  • Reduce reliance on oxygen therapy (if applicable)
  • Can be combined with manual techniques such as percussion, vibration, or practised in postural drainage positions
  • Can be carried out independently by patient with no need for supervision
  • Can be carried out in a number of positions, from sitting watching television, to lying in bed.

More info with link below.

Other links for Deep Breathing Exercises:

NHS – Breathing exercises for stress

Physio.co.uk

Everyday Health

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