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A companion to this week’s magazine…
TAKE A GOOD BREATH
Reduce stress, improve health
Editor’s note: This week, the Frio-Nueces Current publishes its annual magazine ‘HEALTH: Mind, Body & Soul,’ including a number of feature stories related to personal health, ongoing issues related to the coronavirus pandemic, health practices, and services and resources available to families for overall wellbeing and maintenance of good health. On this page, we feature a companion story to encourage awareness of health and wellbeing, and look forward to sharing our magazine with our readers.
By Amanda Brown Snowden
Take a deep breath. Pull it in slowly, calmly, then let it out.
Breathing is a necessary function for humans. The process brings in fresh oxygen and expels carbon dioxide. Everyone takes thousands of breaths each day, often without noticing. Yet, deep breathing goes much further than a basic function to live. When you begin to engage in deep breathing, it can provide numerous health benefits.
As it turns out, the way that you breathe directly affects the chemistry of your brain. A study from Trinity College – Dublin shows deep breathing can actually enhance your attention and improve your overall brain health. Some researchers involved believe it’s possible to achieve the improvements by using specific breath control practices.
Deep breathing has also been shown to improve mood, slow the heart rate, reduce blood pressure, and reduce stress. Meanwhile, an overwhelming number of American adults have reported increased stress over the last year. Since deep breathing has likewise been found to reduce pain, lower muscle tension, and help the body be more relaxed, it seems now is the perfect time to give it a try.
Mindfulness and meditation can be a great place to start with deep breathing or breath control practice, according to family health practitioners. Yoga can also be useful as a means to learning breathing techniques while participating in a fitness activity.
As it requires no special equipment or purchases to be made and can be done wherever you are, deep breathing is an easy answer to help you improve your health. It merely requires that you shift your focus and attention to your breathing.
Your lungs have an important job. They send oxygen into the bloodstream, and it’s delivered to every cell in your body, keeping them alive and well. Such a simple action, when you put moderate extra effort into it, can have a measurably positive effect on your physical and mental health.
Breathing happens anyway, without a second thought or any effort on your part. So, take another purposeful deep breath. Let some of the stress you feel in your mind and your muscles fall away as you release that breath.
Just breathe, and repeat.