Did you know that we take 12-20 breaths per minute on average? It’s amazing to think that we have the natural powers to thrive simply by taking deep full breaths throughout our day. This is called paced breathing, which is slowing your breath down mindfully to focus on the length of the breath.

The purpose of our breath is to transport oxygen to our cells and to get rid of waste, such as carbon dioxide. Science reveals that your breath is an access point to regulating your nervous system. For instance, when we breathe steadily we can calm our nervous system. When we hold our breath, we build up carbon dioxide in our body, which causes cells and the respiratory center of our brain to become distressed.

Paced breath has the potential to calm your mind and body. This type of breathing exercise can be used in a pinch when you’re feeling overly exerted, anxious or distressed. Paced or slower breathing practices support greater brain function, an improved mood, hormone balance and the overall feeling of wellbeing.

Take a moment to listen to Dr. Tracy Gaudet’s 8-minute video, where she shares more about how breathing helps with healing and stress reduction. Dr. Gaudet introduces the 4-7-8 breathing technique to bring the body, mind and spirit back to a more balanced state. This technique focuses on paced breathing, allowing your exhale to be longer than your inhale. It can create a sense of relaxation in the mind and ease distress.

Find a quiet place to practice, make sure you’re seated comfortably with good posture, and try to keep your focus on your breath. If you do lose your focus during the practice, just simply return to your breath.

For more information on self-care through the Whole Health Components of Health and Well-Being, check out our videos here: Whole Health Videos – Whole Health (va.gov).