(Copied from a Play Attention Blog: https://www.playattention.com/resources/blog/2647-deep-breathing-exercises-to-improve-focus-and-decrease-anxiety)
Deep breathing exercises have been shown to have a significant impact on reducing stress and anxiety while improving focus and overall well-being. Studies have found that when we breathe deeply, it can help calm the nervous system, lower blood pressure, and reduce the levels of stress hormones in the body.
One study conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that deep breathing exercises can improve focus and attention by increasing blood flow to the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain responsible for executive functions like decision-making, problem-solving, and planning. This increased blood flow can improve cognitive performance and help individuals feel more alert and focused.
In addition to improving focus, deep breathing exercises have also been shown to reduce stress and anxiety levels. When we are stressed or anxious, we tend to take shallow breaths, which can lead to an increase in cortisol, the stress hormone. By taking slow, deep breaths, we can activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps to decrease cortisol levels and promote relaxation.
One study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that deep breathing exercises can help reduce symptoms of anxiety in individuals with generalized anxiety disorder. Participants in the study reported feeling more relaxed and less anxious after practicing deep breathing exercises for just 15 minutes a day.
There are many different types of deep breathing exercises that individuals can try to improve focus and reduce stress and anxiety. One popular technique is called 4-7-8 breathing, where individuals inhale through their nose for a count of 4, hold their breath for a count of 7, and exhale through their mouth for a count of 8. This technique can be repeated for several rounds until the individual feels more relaxed and focused.
Another technique is called diaphragmatic breathing, which involves breathing deeply into the belly rather than the chest. This technique can help individuals activate the parasympathetic nervous system and promote relaxation.
In conclusion, deep breathing exercises are a simple and effective way to improve focus, reduce stress, and promote overall well-being. By practicing deep breathing exercises regularly, individuals can reap the benefits of increased focus and reduced stress and anxiety levels.