Breathing is so simple. It’s an automatic process that we don’t even realize we’re doing. Yet experts say this effortless activity can also be a tool to help you calm down, get energized, boost your mood and more.
It may sound a bit woo-woo, but science backs this up. Researchers found that how we breathe impacts how we feel. Think about it: When you’re anxious, you tend to take shorter, faster breaths. After that fearful or tense situation is over, you exhale a long sigh of relief.
Internally, each time you inhale, you activate the sympathetic nervous system — our “fight or flight” response. And each time you exhale, you activate the parasympathetic nervous system — our “rest and digest” response.
“By extending your inhale or exhale, you can manage your emotional and psychological state,” says Dan Brulé, author of the forthcoming book Just Breathe and a master breathworker with 40 years of experience.
Ready to give it a shot? Try these breathwork exercises almost anywhere to change your mood in minutes.