Take a Nice Deep Breath
As mentioned in our previous blog post the respiratory system is mostly taken for granted. Very little training is done to help you with your capacity, capability or stability. While being able to elicit elite athletic performance by maximizing each breath is important, the impact of our respiratory system goes deeper.
Our survival depends on our body being able to supply oxygen to our cells. Breathing is easily the most vital recurring function in our body. Being unable to breathe for a few seconds can lead to you passing out and being unable to breathe for more than a minute could cause brain damage and even death. As such we need to understand that our respiratory system is closely interconnected with our brain. Our ability to oxygenate our cells has fascinating effects on our mood and how we experience pain.
The Connection between the Brain and Lungs
The brain is the central computer of our body and sends signals to the entire body for regulation. To relay these signals, the brain uses our nervous system, which constitutes the wiring through which information is sent from the brain to organs and other parts that respond by performing necessary functions.
This connection between the brain and the rest of the body is bi-directional. This means that the brain isn’t just sending signals to organs. It is also receiving. The receipt of these signals influences brain functions and thus the way we experience feelings and sensations.
How breathing Impacts your Emotions
One of the main substances in your brain is norepinephrine and it is responsible for mobilizing the brain and body for action. During sleep the release of this substance is at its lowest and peaks when you are confronted with highly stressful situations.
Fight or Flight
When secreted in the brain, norepinephrine instigates arousal, initiates alertness, promotes vigilance, enhances the formation and retrieval of memory, and focuses attention. Moreover, it brings about restlessness and causes anxiety. Lastly, to prepare the body for action, norepinephrine causes a series of physical effects. These include an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, the release of glucose that provides immediate energy for muscles, elevates blood flow to skeletal muscle, and suppresses blood supply to our digestive system.
What can You do?
It is now widely known that specific breathing exercises such as deep diaphragmatic breathing can bring about positive effects to combat high stress. Leveraging the connection between focused breathing and the brain, one can create positive changes in the brain that can help combat neuropsychological disorders and chronic pain. This is because breathing can send signals to various parts of the brain that are interconnected and responsible for regulating emotions, stress levels, autonomic functions, and pain sensations.
So, take a deep breath or twenty and relax.