When someone becomes stressed by an environmental or psychological stimulus, what they may notice happening in their body is that their breathing rhythm becomes incredibly shallow and quick. Some people forget to breathe altogether for moments at a time when they are in the face of a stressor.
The stress response, also called the “fight or flight” reaction, is what causes this intense and shallow breathing. More than just rapid breathing, the fight-or-flight response also causes a chain reaction of hormone release and distressing physiological symptoms.
However, specific tools exist that help those in stressful situations manage their stress. Breathwork, a diverse group of breathing techniques, could be the key to living a more relaxed life and a more joyous state of being.
The Stress Response triggers an avalanche of hormonal release and strange physiological symptoms. When someone experiences a stressful situation or thought, adrenaline (a stress hormone) is released into the bloodstream from the adrenal glands by the sympathetic nervous system’s response.
After the sympathetic nervous system wakes up, everything gets a bit stranger. Once adrenaline floods someone’s bloodstream, the following symptoms tend to occur:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Rapid breathing
- Increased blood pressure
These symptoms, of course, can cause even more distress to the individual experiencing them, thus perpetuating the stress cycle even more.
Control The Breath, Control Your Mind
Although the stress response is a typical human (and animal) function created to protect one from danger, in some cases, it becomes activated during inappropriate times. For example, for people with anxiety disorders, the stress response tends to happen regularly and for inefficient reasons.
It is in these cases, especially, that it may be helpful for one to learn and practice some breathing techniques. If you can control your breath, in turn, you can also lasso your sympathetic nervous system into behaving a little bit more within in your reign of control.
For those who suffer from panic attacks, being able to control the breath is an essential part of triggering the sympathetic nervous system response – the response that tends to “pump the breaks” on the high danger alerts happening within the body.
Breathwork is an umbrella term encompassing any breathing technique or breathing exercises that one may use to either reduce stress or achieve another decisive goal. All types of breathwork, in general, seem to promote a general feeling of relaxation and
Breathwork has tons of benefits that aren’t limited to merely inhibiting the stress response, including:
- Increased self-esteem
- A boosted immune system
- Increased introspection and awareness of the self
- Overcome addictions
- Foster increased levels of overall joy and happiness
- Let go of grief and other forms of pain
- Become more aware of the pain and different feelings residing in the physical body
- Learn how to meditate better
- Overall better clarity of mind
- Improve chronic fatigue
- Improve chronic pain
- Release anger from the mind and body
- Grow closer to one’s spiritual force or higher power
Effects Of Breathwork
After one finishes with a session of many types of breathwork, the body tends to be flooded with oxygen. Not only is there an influx of oxygen, but the average levels of Carbon Dioxide in the bloodstream are also significantly reduced, which can create a state of euphoria.
Types of Breathwork
Breathwork has been practiced for thousands of years in a myriad of different cultures, such as southeast Asia. Therefore, many types of breathwork exist. Some include:
- Rebirthing breathwork
- Holotropic Breathwork
- The Wim Hof method
- Abdomen Breathwork
- Shamanic Breathwork
- Clarity breathwork
If someone is just being introduced to the practice of breathwork, it may be wise to test out many different types before settling on one to use for consistent practice. Some breathwork is practiced alone, or individually, while other types of breathwork are practiced best in a group setting led by a trained facilitator, such as a shaman.
Group breathwork can be especially healing due to the support readily available for anyone who may need it. Breathwork can potentially bring up emotions that people didn’t realize were hiding within them, which can be a scary experience for some. A facilitator of breathwork can help relieve this fear and can handle whatever reactions may manifest in people.
If breathwork tends to evoke a sense of panic, rather than release it, then it may be best for that person to seek out a different means of relaxation.
Breathwork And Mental Illness
Due to its ability to decrease the effects of the fight-or-flight response, or stress response, breathwork also has the potential to help many mental illnesses, including anxiety disorders, addictions, eating disorders, depressive disorders, and more.
When used in combination with other treatment modalities, breathwork can help mental illnesses immensely. Some other coping tools that work well with breathwork include traditional meditation practices, yoga, exercise, and proper nutrition. Sometimes psychotropic pharmaceuticals are necessary for treating persistent mental illnesses as well, but this is entirely up to a mental illness sufferer’s discretion.
If you or a loved one is suffering from drug or alcohol addiction, help is available to you.
Contact Southern California Sunrise Recovery Center Today.