The Body’s Natural Stress Reliever

Clinical Herbalist Reviewed on March 14, 2012 by Paulina Nelega, RH

There’s something you’re doing right now that’s not only a proven stress reliever, you’re likely not even aware that you’re doing it: breathing!

Deep breathing can be used to train (or retrain) the body’s reaction to stressful situations, and to actually reduce production of stress hormones. This is because slow, deep breathing stimulates that part of our nervous system that relaxes us and calms us down (the parasympathetic system).

Morning Breath of Fire, Sadhana on the Beach
Creative Commons License photo credit: sierragoddess

By contrast, rapid breathing stimulates the sympathetic branch of our nervous system, which governs the “fight or flight” response and ensuing release of stress hormones.

Deep breathing is not only relaxing, it’s been scientifically proven to have a beneficial effect upon our physiology. It can positively affect the heart, brain, digestion, and immune system, improve our blood pH and reduce blood pressure.

Next time you’re feeling stressed or anxious, try this: sit comfortably and take several slow, deep, and even breaths – you’ll be surprised at just how much calmer you’ll feel, very quickly!

There’s nothing easier or more natural to do, than breathe…

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Our Expert

Paulina Nelega, RH
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan

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