Breathing and Stress

breathing and stress

Breathing and Stress

Learning to Breathe Easy for Stress Relief

Have you ever just sat and listened to yourself breathe? Did you know that breath channels energy and vitality? Have you ever noticed the connection between breathing and stress, and that when you are stressed or anxious your breathing is shallow? How about when you are relaxed and carefree? Have you noticed your breathing is deep and full when you are free of stress and anxiety?

Breathing is one of those automatic body functions that is easily taken for granted.

Especially when posture changes like forward head posture cause the inner core muscles to shift, full breathing with the diaphragm is inhibited. When this happens it’s called Forward Head Breathing (FHB), and is a breathing pattern that is unconscious, and literally affects everything you do.

Our breathing patterns are actually quite revealing. Often when we need to feel centered we stop and breathe deeply. Shallow breathing is a way of life for many people. It causes a limited amount of oxygen to reach the bloodstream and can result in fatigue, gas, insomnia, muscle cramps and feelings of anxiety and panic.

According to posture expert Dr. Steven Weiniger, “Diaphragmatic breathing is also called breathing from the belly. A good, deep, cleansing breath should originate from the belly – not the chest.

Place a hand on your belly and the other on your chest. Take a deep breath in. The hand on your belly should rise as your diaphragm fills with air. The hand on your chest should stay still.  If you feel the hand on your chest rise with each breath-  you have work to do! Chest breathing means shallow breathing and leads to stress, shortness of breath, dizziness and a higher level of anxiety. Learning to breathe correctly is an integral part of the Strong Posture program.”

Knowing how to relax and neutralize stress is one of the keys to being happy.

When we breathe deeply, fully and completely we counteract the stresses of modern life and calm our mind and spirit. Breathing not only oxygenates the body’s 100 trillion cells, it also releases carbon dioxide waste material from each cell.

Smooth deep diaphragmatic breathing improves blood circulation, gently massages internal organs, promotes elimination of carbon dioxide, strengthens heart and lungs and promotes deeper sleep patterns.

The next time you find yourself in a stressful situation, sit back and allow yourself time to breathe. Remember the connection between breathing and stress and think about your posture. Have you tightened up? Are you holding your breath? Clear your mind, evaluate your body response and allow yourself time to relax and center yourself.


Jeff Ptak, D.C., and Ptak Chiropractic Life Center are committed to serving the true health needs of as many people as are within reach. Dr. Ptak’s practice is located in Santa Monica, CA.