An easy way to supercharge your life…
Are you so worried about what you eat, how you exercise, your stress levels – you name it – that you may have overlooked something even more vital? After all, breathing ‘just happens’ so it’s easy to forget that it’s the most crucial life force of your body.
It turns out you may be ignoring the very thing that can have an enormous impact on your brain, body – and health. So much so, that just a little deep breathing for just a few minutes each day may benefit your health more than your diet or exercise programme.
Somewhere between when you were a baby and adulthood, you lost the ability to breathe properly. Shifting back to the deep belly breathing of a new-borne can reduce stress, help you sleep better, relieve pain, lower your blood pressure, improve your memory and increase your energy levels – plus many more benefits.
And combining it with lavender’s powerful healing properties just helps to supercharge those benefits…
HOW DOES DEEP BREATHING HELP
Breathing is the essence of life. You can go without food for 3 weeks, and without water for 3 days, but if you stop breathing you will die within 3 minutes.
Breathing in delivers life-sustaining oxygen to all of our cells to provide energy for our body and brain to work. And breathing out removes 70% of all the toxins released by our natural metabolic processes, in the form of carbon dioxide.
But what if most of us are doing it wrong? How can that be? After all - it’s pretty simple. Inhale, exhale - every minute, of every day. However, it turns out that most adults are actually not breathing right - which has major repercussions for your body, your brain and your health.
When you watch a baby breathing, you’ll notice that their belly moves in and out with every breathe they take. Known as diaphragmatic or deep belly breathing, this allows the diaphragm to drop downward, the rib cage to expand and create more space for the lungs to inflate, so bringing in more replenishing oxygen to the body.
By the time most of us reach adulthood, we’ve tended to fall back on chest or thoracic breathing, a ‘lazier’, shallow option which does not expand the chest cavity as much as deep breathing. This leads to all sorts of problems, including low blood oxygen levels, a lazy digestive system and a rapid heartbeat as your body struggles to get all the energy it needs.
But the process goes a lot further than your body’s basic needs. Deep breathing naturally syncs your heart rate with your breathing rate so reducing your blood pressure. It also allows the brain to release more endorphins, the ‘happy hormones’, that have a natural calming effect on your mind.
When you lapse into shallow breathing, the release of these endorphins doesn’t happen, your stress hormone cortisol levels start rising, and before you know it, you are anxious and frazzled. You struggle to focus and concentrate, and a good night’s sleep often becomes a distant memory.
Clearly, deep breathing not only benefits your body but also your brain. It converts more oxygen as your body’s primary energy source, strengthens the immune system, releases toxins, reduces stress and anxiety, helps you sleep - and even renews your skin.
LAVENDER ESSENTIAL OIL AND DEEP BREATHING
It’s pretty obvious that deep breathing is good for you. But did you know that inhaling the healing properties of lavender essential oil can actually boost the many benefits you get from breathing correctly?
Most well-known to improve the quality of your sleep, lavender also helps reduce stress and anxiety, ease depression, improve mood, and relieve headaches and pain. It’s also been shown to reduce blood pressure and heart rate. Its powerful antioxidant properties help prevent and reverse disease, support brain function, and promote a healthy blemish-free and smoother skin.
Not only can lavender help treat a variety of health problems, but it also gets to work exceptionally fast. Lavender essential oil molecules are small enough to be able to permeate our blood/brain barrier in a matter of seconds, and so have a direct impact on the limbic system - sometimes called the ‘emotional brain’ - which control moods, emotions and memories.
The limbic system is also linked to things like your breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, stress levels, sleep cycles and regulating hormones. So aside from improving your emotional state, lavender essential oil can often also trigger a very powerful physical response.
The fact that lavender essential oil enters the bloodstream so quickly and its scent can have such a far-reaching physical and emotional impact shows how well it can work together with deep breathing to help you boost the well-being of your brain, your body and your health…
DEEP BREATHING BENEFITS FOR YOUR BRAIN
Reduces Stress; Calms You Down
Deep breathing encourages the body to relax and unwind. As it increases the amount of oxygen flowing through your blood, so your brain responds by producing those feel-good endorphins that help calm you down. A study found that breathing deeply and often can also have a positive effect on depression and a number of anxiety disorders.
How lavender can help: A well-known stress reliever, a little lavender oil dabbed onto your temples and behind your ears, or a couple of quick sniffs directly out of the bottle, will bring on the calm.
Mental Clarity; Improves Memory
If you’ve ever noticed how you tend to forget things when you’re rushed and panicky, you’re not alone. Studies have shown that taking a few deep breaths not only helps us to concentrate and remember more, but also helps clear away brain fog, bringing everything back into focus. This could be due to the fact that the brain is so oxygen dependent, using up to 20% of what flows into your body.
How lavender can help: If you’re settling in for a long work or study session, drape a heated lavender neck pillow over your shoulders to clear your mind and help ignite your creativity and passion.
Boosts Mood; Controls Emotions
If you find you’re on a bit of an emotional roller coaster, then deep breathing will help. It triggers the release of those wonderful ‘happy hormones’, immediately lifting your mood and banishing any negative thoughts you might have. Breathing helps you control your emotions, instead of them controlling you.
How lavender can help: Include an attractive lavender diffuser in your home or office environment to boost your mood-enhancing hormones even further.
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DEEP BREATHING BENEFITS FOR YOUR BODY
Soothes Aches; Relieves Pain
Even though our first instinct is to hold our breathe when we experience pain, deep breathing can in fact help us through the pain. Breathing oxygenates the blood, which triggers the release of those feel-good endorphins from the brain so helping relieve all your aches and pains naturally.
How lavender can help: Lavender oil is a natural painkiller. Simply massaging lavender oil into the area of concern can reduce inflammation. It’s also one of the best essential oils for headaches – a few sniffs direct out of the bottle will bring quick relief.
Lowers Blood Pressure; Improves Circulation
You know the trick about taking a few deep breaths when you’re under pressure? That’s because deep breathing relaxes the muscles that allows your blood vessels to dilate, so improving circulation and lowering blood pressure. It also helps your BP by slowing and regulating your heart rate.
How lavender can help: Known as the queen of calm, lavender helps lower your anxiety and heart rate – and also reduces blood pressure. Strategically scatter a few lavender sachets around your home to reap the benefits all day - every day.
Detoxifies the Body; Increases Immunity
Breathing is in charge of cleansing as much as 70% of the toxins from your body with the release of carbon dioxide as you exhale. It basically helps the lymphatic system detoxify the body. And by improving blood oxygenation to allow more efficient absorption of essential nutrients and vitamins, deep breathing also protects the body from bacteria, viruses and other illnesses.
How lavender can help: Lavender can help with both stress and lack of sleep that lower your immunity. It’s also a powerful antioxidant, protecting cells from harmful free radicals. You can easily include lavender in your daily bathing routine either with a shower gel or bath salts to help keep your health in top form.
Increases Energy; Enhances Endurance
Better oxygen supply significantly improves the quality of your blood. The more life-enhancing oxygen that is in the blood, the more energy you have, and the better your body functions. Deep breathing also improves the blood flow to your muscles, so increasing physical strength, stamina and drive.
How lavender can help: Getting good sleep is a huge part of feeling energized during the day. Include calming lavender in your bedtime ritual by misting your pillow case with linen spray, tucking a lavender sachet under your pillow, and donning a lavender eye mask before you slip off into dreamland.
Strengthens the Heart and Lungs
More oxygen to the body helps both the heart and lungs do their jobs better. An added benefit of deep breathing is that it reduces the workload strain on the heart. Inhaling deeper breaths also releases tension in the diaphragm and breathing muscles that can help many respiratory problems like asthma and breathlessness.
How lavender can help: A study has shown that lavender can help reduce inflammation caused by allergies and asthma. Simply add a few drops of lavender oil into a diffuser to breathe easier.
Relaxes Muscles; Reduces Stiffness
When we experience any stress, anger or pain, our breathing progressively becomes shallower and our muscles tense up. Deep breathing helps to not only ease stiff muscles but also instils a sense of calm that your mind needs.
How lavender can help: As a natural anti-inflammatory and analgesic, lavender helps ease the pain caused by muscle tension. Rope in your better half and some lavender massage oil to spoil you with a relaxing rub down to ease away the soreness.
Improves the Digestive System
As with every other organ in the body, deep breathing increases the flow of oxygen-enriched blood to your stomach and intestines, so improving overall digestion. It also helps alleviate conditions like irritable bowel syndrome and constipation.
How lavender can help: Some studies suggest that drinking lavender as a tea can help with issues like vomiting, nausea, intestinal gas, upset stomach, and abdominal swelling. Just ensure that you use a high quality natural organic tea.
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DEEP BREATHING BENEFITS FOR YOUR SLEEP
You’ve had a stressful day and your mind is racing at 100 miles an hour. Falling asleep seems to be a distant and very elusive dream. The thought of going through the next day with a fuzzy head and mind-numbing exhaustion just makes you even more tired just thinking of it. Not being able to sleep is soul-destroying stuff. But a good night’s sleep also one of the most important things you can do for optimal mind and body health.
Instead of popping a pill, deep breathing can be of enormous help when it comes to getting some shut-eye. Taking in deep breaths naturally calms the parasympathetic nervous system, which tells your body that it’s time to chill out and stop being on high alert. This triggers a relaxation response that slows down the heart rate and stops you from stressing, so making it easier for you to fall asleep - and stay asleep.
How lavender can help: Well known for its calming abilities, lavender will relax both your body and mind before you go to sleep. An hour before you go to bed, drape a heated lavender neck pillow over your shoulders to ease away the stresses of the day. Infuse your entire bedroom with lavender’s calming scent by lighting a candle and a generous spritz of lavender room spray.
Just before bed, a soothing warm soak in a tub infused with lavender bath salts is an absolute must-do to unwind and calm down. Finally massage some relaxing lavender foot balm into your feet to guarantee a full night’s worth of blissful slumber.
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DEEP BREATHING BENEFITS FOR YOUR SKIN
Deep breathing can help keep you looking young. It can also clear up acne. If that sounds a bit far-fetched, remember that your skin is the largest organ in the body. Just like with all your other organs, deep breathing promotes a rush of freshly oxygenated, mineral-rich and vitamin-infused blood into your skin that can make an enormous difference to its color, texture and look – literally breathing new life and energy into it.
But that’s not all. Regular deep breathing delivers some profound anti-aging and stress reducing benefits that improve the skin. Studies have found that women who have been meditating for 5 years have a biological age of 10 years younger than they are. They also had longer telomeres - the protective caps found on the end of chromosomes - which slow aging. And for those of you that suffer from stress-induced breakouts, deep breathing also helps lower those high cortisol levels that can lead to acne.
How lavender can help: Whether your skin is sensitive, dry and aging, or oily and acne-prone, all you need is lavender’s powerful antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties to sort it out. Here’s how to use lavender for every skin type.
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DEEP BREATHING EXERCISE
Like most of us, if you’re used to shallow chest breathing, changing to deep abdomen breathing will need a little practice. Try doing this simple deep breathing exercise at least once a day, but if you can include it in your morning and evening routine, even better. It only takes 5 minutes…
Place a hand on your belly while you’re lying down to ensure that you’re properly following the deep breathing technique.
Breath in slowly through the nose for 5 seconds, allowing your belly to rise first, followed by your chest.
Hold the breath for 3 seconds.
Slowly release the breath though the mouth for 5 seconds – or more.
Repeat 5 times, or continue for 5 minutes – the more you can do, the better.
Once you’ve mastered the technique, you can also do it either sitting or standing.
If just a few minutes of deep breathing every day can have such an enormous impact on your health, and you can so easily enhance the benefits with lavender, doesn’t it make you wonder why you’ve never done this before? It’s one of those no-brainers. And it can be done anywhere. No need to wait any longer. Breathe in…breathe out…
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Please check with your doctor before using essential oils to treat any medical concerns.
Although lavender is one of the gentlest essential oils, please use caution when applying directly on the skin because this can cause irritation. Be sure to patch test on the inside of your forearm for 24 hours beforehand.
There's a difference between lavender essential oil or lavender oil, which is simply a perfume. If a label does not clearly state that it is an 'essential oil,' then it is not a pure oil and should not be used as suggested.