How does shallow breathing affect the body?


Breathing as a connection between body and soul

A piece of advice that is as banal as it is extremely effective: just take a deep breath. Because how we breathe has a great influence on our body and its reactions. We can also regulate sensations through our breathing. Breathing connects our body with our soul.

Breathing is the most natural thing in the world for us. After all, we do this around the clock. And precisely because it is so natural for us, it helps to be very aware of your breathing every now and then. Because certain ways of breathing have a specific influence on our condition. Conversely, breathing can also tell us a lot about our condition.

Breathing from a psychotherapeutic point of view - stress, nervousness, fear? - Take a deep breath!

Human breathing is an extremely fine sensor. Even the smallest changes in the physical or mental state can be seen on the basis of this. For example, we breathe shallowly when we're scared and rushed when we're under stress. The reason behind this is that breathing belongs to the autonomic nervous system. That means our breathing rate is linked to our heart rate.

Breathing is a quick and easy way of relieving stress.

Let us take the example of fear again. Slowed breathing can act like first aid here: breathing slower slows the heartbeat and thus leads to relaxation.
It also depends on the type of breathing. Shallow chest breathing is widespread. Especially if you also pull in your stomach (you could look slimmer). However, this breathing does not correspond to our nature. This can be clearly seen in babies. Here you can see how the abdominal wall rises when you inhale and lowers when you exhale.
So we forget to breathe “properly” in the course of our lives. Because it has been scientifically proven that abdominal breathing has a more relaxing effect.

Breathing technique for everyday life

In meditation in particular, there is a strong focus on correct breathing. In yoga there is even the term “pranayama” for this - the bringing together of body and mind through breathing exercises. But even without a guided yoga course, there are ways to relax in everyday life through breathing. Since this form of breathing is a form of resonance between breathing and the heart, we speak of resonance breathing. Here are a few tips:

Tip 1: Count to four on the inhale and six on the exhale. On the one hand, relaxation takes place when you exhale, because the parasympathetic nervous system is activated. This system ensures relaxation, so it makes sense to exhale longer than inhale. At the same time, this 10-second rhythm is based on the so-called baroreflex (the mechanism that maintains our blood pressure). This has a positive effect on our heart rate variability (HRV): The natural fluctuation between our heartbeats increases and increases relaxation and the ability to regulate emotions. On the other hand, the inner counting helps to switch off mentally and to relieve stress.

Tip 2: Put your hands on your stomach and breathe into your stomach. Feel the breath rush under your abdominal wall. By laying on your hands, you focus more on yourself and distract yourself from other thoughts.

Tip 3: Breathe consciously through your nose. Nasal breathing relaxes, in contrast to mouth breathing, and promotes memory. Concentrating on the nose creates a relaxed and refreshing feeling.

And finally, a very general piece of advice: don't forget to take breaks. The body longs for relaxation, especially under stress. So consciously take breaks in which you pay attention to your breathing and allow yourself a moment to rest.

Coping with stress through breathing

So it can be summarized as follows: Regulating your breathing is a simple step in coping with stress. Therefore, conscious breathing or one-minute meditation is part of resilience training. Stress cannot simply be "breathed away", but it can contribute enormously to relaxation. By creating conscious breathing, you can regulate your condition and access resources again. In this way you create a good basis for strengthening your own resilience.
Because we breathe every minute of our life. Then we can use the effect behind it right away. So the appeal: Just take a deep breath!

Sebastian Mauritz, M.A. Systemic consulting, is one of the leading resilience experts in Germany. He is a five-time specialist author, keynote speaker, resilience trainer, systemic coach, board member in many coach and trainer associations and entrepreneur. His focus is on individual resilience and prosilence®, resilient leadership and team resilience. He is the initiator of the resilience online congress, during which he exchanges ideas with over 50 other resilience experts from various disciplines (