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How your breathing reflects the state of your nervous system...





The state of your breathing can reflect the state of your nervous system in several ways.

First, when the body is in a state of stress or anxiety, the sympathetic nervous system is activated. This can cause the breath to become shallow and rapid, as the body prepares for the "fight or flight" response.


On the other hand, when the body is relaxed and at rest, the parasympathetic nervous system is activated. This can cause the breath to become slow and deep, as the body's "rest and digest" response kicks in.


So, if your breath is shallow and rapid, this may be a sign that your sympathetic nervous system is activated and that you are feeling stressed or anxious. If your breath is slow and deep, this may be a sign that your parasympathetic nervous system is activated and that you are feeling relaxed and at ease.


Automatic Breathing Neurology


Automatic breathing, also known as involuntary or reflexive breathing, is controlled by several parts of the brain.


The primary control centre for breathing is located in the medulla oblongata, which is a part of the brainstem. The medulla oblongata contains specialised cells called respiratory neurons, which send signals to the muscles involved in breathing.


Additionally, the pons, which is also located in the brainstem, plays a role in regulating automatic breathing. The pons contains centres that control the rate and depth of breathing, as well as the reflexes that are involved in the response to changes in carbon dioxide levels.


The cerebellum, which is located at the base of the brain, also plays a role in automatic breathing. The cerebellum helps to coordinate the muscles involved in breathing and ensures that breathing is smooth and rhythmic.


Overall, automatic breathing is controlled by several parts of the brain, including the medulla oblongata, the pons, and the cerebellum. These structures work together to regulate the muscles involved in breathing and ensure that the body receives the oxygen it needs.


Breathing and Anxiety



Poor breathing habits can contribute to feelings of anxiety. When the body is in a state of stress or anxiety, the breath tends to become shallow and rapid. This can lead to a decrease in the amount of oxygen that reaches the brain, which can exacerbate feelings of anxiety and panic.


Conversely, when we breathe deeply and fully, it can help activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the body's "rest and digest" response. This can help the body relax and reduce feelings of anxiety.


Additionally, poor breathing habits can lead to a build-up of carbon dioxide in the body, which can cause symptoms such as dizziness and lightheadedness. These symptoms can trigger feelings of anxiety and panic.


Overall, poor breathing habits can play a role in the development of anxiety. By practicing deep, diaphragmatic breathing, we can help reduce feelings of anxiety and promote relaxation.


Here are a few studies that show the link between poor breathing and anxiety:

  • A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that participants who practiced diaphragmatic breathing for 10 minutes per day over a four-week period experienced a significant reduction in anxiety symptoms compared to a control group.

  • Another study, published in the journal Cognition and Emotion, found that participants who practiced deep breathing experienced a reduction in anxiety and an increase in feelings of relaxation.

  • A study published in the journal Respiration found that individuals with panic disorder had significantly higher levels of carbon dioxide in their exhaled breath compared to healthy controls. This suggests that poor breathing may play a role in the development of panic disorder.

These studies provide evidence that poor breathing habits can contribute to feelings of anxiety. By practicing deep, diaphragmatic breathing, we can help reduce anxiety and promote relaxation.



Exhale Focused Breathing


Exhale focused breathing, also known as diaphragmatic or belly breathing, can help the nervous system in several ways.


First, exhale focused breathing can help activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the body's "rest and digest" response. When the parasympathetic nervous system is activated, it can help the body relax and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.

Second, exhale focused breathing can help improve the function of the respiratory system. When we breathe deeply and fully, we are able to take in more oxygen, which can help the body function more efficiently. This can have a positive effect on overall health and well-being.


Third, exhale focused breathing can help improve the function of the cardiovascular system. Deep, belly breaths can help improve blood flow and circulation, which can help the body deliver oxygen and nutrients to the cells more effectively.


Overall, exhale focused breathing can have a calming and beneficial effect on the nervous system. It can help the body relax, improve respiratory and cardiovascular function, and promote overall health and well-being.


In general, the state of your breathing can provide important clues about the state of your nervous system. By paying attention to your breath, you can gain insight into your physical and emotional state and take steps to manage stress and promote relaxation.


If you feel breathing may be contributing to how you are feeling, please don't hesitate to reach out and see what we can do.



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