Depression, anxiety, and sleep dysfunction rates among both children and adults have reached epidemic levels and are getting increasingly worse. To our own detriment, many of us go through life not aware of the benefits of conscious breathing.
Out of all the daily self-care modalities available, conscious breathing is arguably the lowest hanging fruit. It does not require much time, it is accessible to individuals of all abilities, and it is free.
One of the greatest benefits of conscious breathing – an umbrella term encapsulating different types of breathwork – is its ability to reprogram our nervous system and combat low-grade, chronic stress.
Physiologically, as opposed to the sympathetic “fight or flight” system, conscious breathing turns on the parasympathetic system – also referred to as the “rest and digest” system – which is essential for overall health and longevity.
Breathwork is essentially our inner pharmacy to calm the mind, relax the body, and even provide us with a boost of energy/clarity. It’s no wonder that the Department of Defense and Navy Seals ascribe to different forms of conscious breathing.
Personally, breathwork can be helpful before, during, or after a difficult, or stressful event. It can help keep us calm in traffic or down-regulate our thoughts/emotions before bed. Professionally, it can calm our nerves before a meeting or speaking engagement.
Just as we’re attune to our body’s need to eat or to go to the bathroom, so too should we be mindful of our body telling us we need to breathe. Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl wrote:
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
By getting more in touch with what’s going on within us we can better control how we respond to the world around us.
Explore for yourself and consider teaching your children about the benefits of conscious breathing before their sporting events, exams, and during any moments of anxiousness.
In our blog post on cold therapy, we shared the 4-7-8 breathing technique. Linked below are some additional videos that we’ve found helpful: