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Breathe...How you can Harness the Science Behind Deep Breaths to Achieve Greater Wellbeing

Holiday time got you crazed? Between gifts, family time, entertaining, school activities and all the other end of the year shenanigans...taxes, deductibles, and other annoying stuff, it can get overwhelming! Breathing, may help.

Humankind has touted the benefits of the breath since the first millennium B.C. The Tao religion of China as well as Hinduism have harnessed the power of the breath in spiritual practices since that time. The concept of managing the breath to benefit physical and mental health is also old and began in Pranayama yoga many centuries ago. 

But its not all kumbaya! I have to say that the science is pretty impressive. The way you breathe can have profound effects on how you feel. Breathing through your nose carries information thru the olfactory nerve (which carries smell) to the hippocampus and amygdala. These areas of the brain are responsible for emotional regulation. It has been shown that nasal breathing stimulates these parts of the brain to engender feelings of  ease and well-being. In addition, breathing through your nose creates electrical activity in these parts of the brain enhancing emotional judgement. 

Deep breathing also stimulates the vagus nerve which results in slowing of the heart rate, reducing blood pressure and relaxing our muscles. When the vagus nerve informs the brain of these changes, it relaxes the brain as well and enhances feelings of relaxation and ease. Deep breathing exercises have been shown to reduce anxiety, and stress, and to improve sleep as well as other health benefits.

So try this!  3 to 5 cycles of deep breathing. Take 5 seconds to inhale deeply through your nose and 5 seconds to breathe out completely. Make it a practice one, two or more times a day. You can even set a reminder on your phone so you don't forget. Breathing is not going to get the weird cousins out of your life but it may help you deal with them in a more mindful way ;)

Dr. Adrienne Youdim

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