Diaphragmatic breathing (DB) has become a staple intervention in the treatment of anxiety disorders, stress-related conditions and addictions. The diaphragm – a sheet of muscle connected to the base of the lungs – is a key muscle in the breathing process. Exerting the diaphragm as you breathe pulls down on your lungs and expands the amount of oxygen it can ingest. Not only do your lungs capture more oxygen via DB, but the bottom half of your lungs are densely coated with alveoli.
The increased number of alveoli amplifies the oxidizing effects of DB, the bottom half of your lungs able to transfer more oxygen into your blood system than the top section. The more oxygen-rich our blood, the less demands on your heart. With the infusion of oxygen into the blood supply, the heart can more easily pump oxygen across the body. That effect lowers blood pressure. DB also activates the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), which helps to further lower BP. The PNS serves as the body’s braking system, kicking in to slow down our physiology in times of stress.
Those who practice DB with some regularity prime the PNS to more forceful combat stress. The ritual practice of DB, then, enhances your body’s resilience against stress. Lastly, the diaphragm interweaves with the viscera in a way that its contractions secondarily massage the heart. Like all muscles, the heart enjoys a good massage, DB helping to easy its tension and again to lower BP. Practicing DB 3 times a day,
In 5- to 10-minute intervals, can greatly inoculate you against stress. For those in treatment and early recovery, managing stress is an especially critical skill in early recovery, as stress commonly triggers cravings.
To see more on DB, Please Watch:
Kevin Murphy, Psy.D.
AToN Center 888-535-1516