How learning to breathe deeply can help you de-stress

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Life can be so busy and stressful that we often overlook the power of our breath, which can be a powerful tool in calming and connecting to our bodies under the most stressful of situations.

"It's one of those systems of the body that, where if we don't think about it, we still do it," said Sonya Nelson, a breathing technique expert and owner of Begin Within Healing.

She explains the physiological changes are immediate when we begin to connect with our breath.

"We are tapping into and basically helping what is scientifically known as the parasympathetic nervous system," she said.

This system is in charge of aiding in rest and digestion when the body is relaxed, helping to reverse some of the stress we experience.

Nelson explains as children, we breathe deeply into our bellies, but somewhere along the way, our body can stop taking those full breaths and instead we're left taking small, short breaths that are centered in our chest.

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"When we breath into the belly, that helps to stimulate the nerves in the lower diaphragm and lungs and helps us get that calming aspect," she said.

When doing breath work, inhale slowly and deeply, holding your breath for a few seconds before slowly exhaling and repeating. Focus on your body's response in order to learn what works best for you.

Breath work is not limited to adults, but also a very helpful tool for children to learn to connect with their bodies and self-sooth.

For parents, start off with explaining why there will be an emphasis on breathing.

"Say, 'Hey, we are going to start doing this thing where, when we get frustrated or when something overwhelming is happening, or things are getting intense, we will help each other remember to take a breath,'" she said.

The techniques should also be used by the entire family, parents included, in order to be most effective.

"So, the primary thing [parents] need to do is breathe themselves," she said.

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