The Biggest Stress Relief Mistake

Young business woman panic  attack

I know, everyone tells you take a deep breathe for stress relief. And breathing properly is probably one of the fastest ways to change your focus from something stressful to something you CAN control.

If you watch a newborn baby breathe, you can see how you are supposed to breathe – an inhale should expand your belly. But many people are chronically breathing and expanding their chest. That type of breath is the result of stress. Belly breathing is relaxing, and brings oxygen deep into your lungs. Just practicing this type of breathing and focusing on your belly expanding when you inhale, and your belly depressing when you exhale can be a good stress reliever.

But here’s the biggest mistake “gurus” make when they tell you how to breathe. They say take a deep breath in through your nose, and exhale through your mouth. BIG mistake!

At one point, I was having trouble breathing, and having symptoms of asthma. I found a class on “Buteyko Breathing” and learned a technique that got rid of the asthma, and strengthened my breath.

You should breathe through your mouth as often as you eat through your nose!

OK, I know that sounds pretty funny, but here’s the scientific explanation:

“The nose and the mouth serve very different functions. Each nostril is innervated by five cranial nerves from a different side of the brain. Each nostril functions independently and synergistically in filtering, warming, moisturizing, dehumidifying, and smelling the air. It’s like having two noses housed in one shelter.

The respiratory system of carbon dioxide and oxygen exchange occurs in the alveoli of the lungs. When there is proper oxygen-carbon dioxide exchange, the blood will maintain a balanced pH. If carbon dioxide is lost too quickly, as in mouth breathing, oxygen absorption is decreased. There is a negative pressure built in the lungs, thereby decreasing the blood absorption of oxygen. ” (this quote is from:

re-breathe from a paper bag

re-breathe from a paper bag

Mouth breathing can have all sorts of negative repercussions. In fact, imagine the face of someone who is having a panic attack: you can probably see them with a deer in the headlights expression, mouth open, breathing through their mouth! And sure enough, mouth breathing rapidly CAN cause a panic attack! In fact, one of the quick treatments for a panic attack is to rebreathe in the exhaled air (containing the proper amount of carbon dioxide plus oxygen) from a paper bag that you just exhaled into!

If you are stressed, make sure you breathe in AND OUT slowly through your nose. You can extend your exhale through your nose and make it take longer. That actually engages your parasympathetic nervous system, which is the calming half of your nervous system.

Breathing through your mouth is normal during one activity: Talking. It’s called: “leaking air” in Buteyko circles. So how do you minimize the amount of air you leak? Speak slower, and take pauses to replenish the air by breathing back with your nose! You’ll speak slower, and give other people a chance for their brains to process what you are saying! It’s a Win-Win situation!

And you might want to educate someone who tells you to breathe out through the mouth that it’s better to use the nose, and get THEM less stressed!

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