There’s a word that’s often heard around the Costhetics office, and that word is “breathe.”
We’re Australia’s leading resource for plastic surgery, physical enhancement, and other beauty-centric news and information. One of the topics at the centrepiece of our reporting is health. Health is the foundation of beauty, and good breathing is the foundation for health.
Simply put, you need oxygen to live…and to combat breath-robbing stress.
10 Reasons You Need to Breathe Right
When you’re stressed, your breathing becomes fast and shallow.
- General respiration in adults is 12-18 breaths per minute (every 4-5 seconds)
- Those in a stressful situation often take 20 breaths per minute (every 3 seconds)
A little fast breathing every now and again is nothing to worry about. Unfortunately, chronic stress and a pattern of unhealthy breathing can
- Rob you of your sleep
- Affect cortisol production
- Cause your hair to fall out
- Mess with your libido
- Throw off oestrogen production
- Lead to gastrointestinal problems such as constipation
- Affect your memory
- Wreak havoc on your immune system
- Trigger eczema, acne, psoriasis, and other skin disorders
- Change the way you metabolise fat and sugar…for the worse
People who chronically breathe too fast tend to sigh often, take deep breaths, and feel short of breath. They’re desperate for oxygen. Fortunately, there’s a solution to this problem. It’s called “mindful breathing.”
How You Can Practice Alternate Nostril Breathing
Hilary Clinton credits this breathing technique as an oasis of peace in her chaotic and ultimately losing run for president of the United States. She understood that when she felt stressed, her body paid a price. Clinton had never tried breath work before, and when someone suggested alternate nostril breathing as a calming practice, she decided to give it a go. She told Business Insider, “(I was told the technique) allows oxygen to activate both the right side of the brain, which is the source of creativity and imagination, and the left side, which controls reason and logic.”
Alternate nostril breathing is practiced worldwide, often in conjunction with yoga. It dates back to the 15th Century. The practice is known as nadi shodhana pranayama, which means “subtle energy clearing breathing technique” in Sanskrit. Here’s what you need to do:
- Sit in a comfy position
- Close one nostril with your thumb or index finger
- Inhale and exhale through the open nostril
- Close the other nostril
- Inhale and exhale
Truth be told, there is little science to support the idea that this practice is truly able to direct the flow of oxygen to different parts of the brain. There is a mountain of science, however, that demonstrates the value of mindful breathing, particularly when done in conjunction with yoga.
Science Looks at Deep Breathing, Stress Reduction & Health
Costhetics always looks to science-based research to ensure that a new (or ancient) technique is proven to be effective. Here’s some of what we learned about deep breathing:
- A 30-minute session of slow breathing helped reduce stress in musicians who tend to get anxious before performing (2012 Study).
- Veterans with PTSD who did a daily breathing-based meditation were able to decrease their symptoms and anxiety (2014 Study).
- Deep breathing helped study participants control cortisol levels (2010 study).
- The rhythm of breathing directly impacts neural activity in a network of brain areas (The Guardian).
How to Get Your Breath On
One thing we know you’ll love about breathing techniques is how easy they are to do. There’s no special time, place, or equipment required. All you need is your mind and your body. To begin:
- Lie on your back with your knees bent
- Place your feet flat on the floor, or mattress, or whatever, about 8” apart from one another
- Place one hand on your chest
- Place another hand on your abdomen
Now it’s time to start breathing:
- Inhale as deeply as possible and hold your breath for 10 seconds
- Breathe out and think the word “relax”
Then it gets interesting:
- Inhale THROUGH YOUR NOSE for a count of 3. You should feel the hand on your abdomen rise as you inhale.
- Exhale THROUGH YOUR MOUTH for a count of 3. The hand on your abdomen will fall as you exhale.
- Continue this breathing pattern for 60 seconds.
- At the end of 1 minute, begin the cycle again by holding your breath for 10 seconds.
Continue to repeat the cycle for five minutes and you’ll be amazed at how clear-headed, calm, and healthy you feel when you’re done.
If you’d like some additional options for mindful breathing, Time Magazine has a wonderful series of 10-minute breathing techniques ranging in difficulty from easy to tough.
The Bottom Line
Costhetics says, “If you’re feeling stressed, you should stop and take a deep breath…or stop and smell the flowers. No one says a healing breath can’t smell nice, too!”