Breathing is something that we all do automatically, but few of us breathe well and we probably rarely even think about it. However, making it a focus can bring so many benefits into your life. I have recently discovered the power of conscious breathing in calming and easing my Parkinson’s symptoms, particularly the anxiety; it has become medicine for my mind and body, soothing my frazzled nervous system and bringing serenity to my mind. Considering that many other chronic illnesses are linked to the nervous system, it is most definitely worth taking a look at a free and accessible tool that can make everyday life more manageable.
Those who suffer with high levels of anxiety tend to shallow breathe, but if we can learn to regulate our breath, we can learn to regulate our bodies. Conscious breathing is such a powerful tool, yet many of us are breathing incorrectly and creating a plethora of problems for ourselves; these issues can be prevented or helped simply by changing how we breathe. I am not a doctor and I am not qualified to give advice, but I do a lot of research and reading, and I only share techniques and strategies that I personally have found to work. Anyone who does yoga will be aware of the importance of controlled breathing in creating a state of calm. There are also so many testimonies from people who use the Wim Hof method or Tummo breathing that will support my belief in the transformative power of breathing correctly.
Studies show that only breathing through our mouths is bad for our health; we consume less oxygen and we are not making our lungs work to full capacity as we are not inhaling enough air. We tend to breathe through our mouths when we are stressed as it is easier, nasal breathing is harder, but you inhale more oxygen. Every cell in the body depends on oxygen, it is what our bodies need, and cells and tissues denied adequate oxygen for long enough start to break down.
Nasal breathing on the other hand eases migraines, helps snoring and apnea, diffuses stress, resets the body, regulates heart rate, and keeps you grounded and balanced. Breathing through the left nostril in particular calms the body down as it is connected to the parasympathetic nervous system; it is responsible for reducing anxiety, inducing relaxation, and lowering blood pressure. Poor breathing is linked to higher blood pressure, cardio-vascular problems, fatigue and panic attacks. Brain health is my number one concern, and breathing correctly increases blood flow to my brain, I feel a release of happy chemicals and can induce a state of calm bliss within minutes. Working with my nervous system and keeping my body in a state of homeostasis is crucial to alleviating my symptoms, and this strategy really works!
Breathing too often and too quickly overworks the body. Those with a lower resting heart rate tend to live longer; a slow resting heart rate is achieved by slow breaths, inhaling and exhaling deeply and slowly through the nose. Try meditation in order to slow down the breath and the brainwaves, or breathing through alternate nostrils, in for four and out for four. Basically, breathe slowly and less. Research breathing apps or set a daily or hourly reminder on your phone to ensure that you are checking in with your breath. Keep checking whether your breathing is sending distress signals through your body, or peace and calm. Breathing correctly is an immediate way to calm yourself.
The positive results may take a while to be seen, it can take years to create an illness, and so it may take years to heal. Don’t underestimate the healing power of a long, deep and mindful breath; your body and mind will definitely reward you for it!