Ever Considered It's The Way You Are Breathing?


For many, breathing is just that... 

Breathe in

Breathe Out.

But what if you are not breathing optimally?

Enter dysfunctional breathing!

Have you ever considered that how you are breathing is contributing directly to how you are feeling emotionally?

Have you ever been in a really stressful situation and suddenly felt breathless? 

Sure, there are many reasons for this, like an underlying heart condition, but the main reason is that our body wants more oxygen to help you either fight or run away from the thing that is causing you fear. And for many of us, we don't help ourselves because our sedentary lifestyles have led to dysfunctional breathing patterns.

Dysfunctional breathing can also contribute to feelings of stress and anxiety.

Consider your normal breathing pattern: If you tend to breathe rapidly and/or shallowly, this on its own can trigger your body's stress responses, leading to physical symptoms such as increased heart rate, muscle tension, and feelings of anxiety. Then, when you experience emotional stress and anxiety, you tense your abdominal muscles, which reduces diaphragmatic movement, and if the diaphragm can't expand downward, this leads to thoracic breathing [1]

Less oxygen in and less waste gases out, and your body is not happy, nor is your mind!

Already, you can see that stress, emotions, and thoughts all have a direct effect on your breathing, and vice versa.

But you can do something about it by using intentional breathing that allows you to slow and deepen your breath. When practiced regularly, these specific exercises can help you manage stress and anxiety [2]

If you are experiencing anxiety, you may have found dysfunctional breathing creeping in or being triggered by physical activity, strong odours, cold weather, and stress[3]. Conversely, people with chronic stress may be more at risk of developing poor breathing patterns that the body then starts to use all the time, creating a cycle where stress or anxiety and the patterns of breathing reinforce one another, causing an escalation of all those emotional symptoms and physical patterns to spiral. 

So what can you do about this?

Fortunately, there are several strategies you can use to break the cycle, improve your breathing patterns, and retrain your autonomic system. 

Mindfulness techniques, such as deep breathing exercises and meditation, can help you become more aware of your breathing patterns and develop better breathing habits. This will help you to recognise when your breathing is out of wack when facing stressful moments or when something triggers you to feel anxious. That way, you can use your go-to favourite breathing technique to dampen down all those feelings!

Why not take a breathwork class to have someone support and guide you through the process. Getting the hang of it can be challenging, but at the same time, a giggle! But make sure you are taking the right type of breathing class. Some practices are intended to fire you up, not calm you down! The last thing you want is to start hyperventilating!

Physical activities such as yoga or tai chi can help individuals improve their breathing patterns by promoting relaxation and body awareness. This also means you dedicate some self-care time to yourself!

Essentially, you need to improve how you breathe so that you can break the cycle of dysfunctional breathing and reduce all those feelings of stress and anxiety. By sorting out dysfunctional breathing patterns, you have taken an important step to reduce stress and anxiety, and improve your overall health and well-being.

And if you would like more info on breathwork with some simple and safe exercises for you to try, why not let me know where to send my free guide?

Here's the link:


[1] Vidotto LS, Carvalho CRF, Harvey A, Jones M. (2019) Dysfunctional breathing: what do we know? J Bras Pneumol. Feb 11;45(1):e20170347. doi: 10.1590/1806-3713/e20170347. PMID: 30758427; PMCID: PMC6534396.

[2] Stress-related breathing disorders https://www.rosalbacourtney.com/stress-related-breathing-disorders/

[3] Breathing pattern disorders - patient information https://www.uhs.nhs.uk/Media/UHS-website-2019/Patientinformation/Respiratory/Breathing-pattern-disorders-patient-information.pdf