We are never conscious of our breathing, yet it is the very thing that keeps us alive. Our breathing patterns tell us a lot about what is happening within our body. It is usually within unnatural bodily states do we recognise our breathing. For example, during a workout, we start to notice our breathing becoming heavy, or when we are having a medical emergency or there is smoke in the air, we notice that it becomes hard to breathe. In some ways, breathing controls us, but we can and we should practice controlling our breathing.
But why though? Why should we bother controlling our breathing? I mean it’s just a natural and automatic function that allows oxygen to go in and carbon dioxide to go out, allowing our body to function and survive. So why go the extra mile when it’s really not all that necessary?
Let me tell you why. Breathing in a particular way has a way to calm the mind. This is something we are all, to some extent, aware of but have put it in the back burner along with the other random knowledge we picked up along the way. When we humans feel anxious or scared, we are often told to “breathe”, “take deep breaths in and out”, and “in through your nose and out through your mouth”. Breathing in such manner, that is, slowly, taking full and deep breaths sends messages to the brain signalling that you are happy and calm.
A study conducted by Phillipot and his team of researchers found that they were able to induce emotions just based on breathing. In the study, the research team asked a bunch of participants to feel anxious, scared and fearful and to notice how they breathed when they were trying to feel that way. They noticed that during these emotions, the participants took very rapid and shallow breaths. Comparatively, when participants were asked to feel happy, they breathed much more slowly and took fuller breaths. Of course, as with all good science they did a follow up study to ensure their results were not a fluke. It wasn’t, the same pattern of results emerged.
Emotions really do match up with breathing patterns!
Now, usually what happens is that we feel the emotion first and alongside that, the change in breathing occurs. However, when we notice these emotions we can easily try and clam ourselves and return back to a not so panicked stage by breathing in slow and deep breaths.
We all knew this, but now that there is some science involved, maybe we will put it to use more often! Also! Practicing controlled breathing provides immediate and positive effects on ones’ wellbeing, so you might want to jump on the bandwagon and try it out for yourself!