Deep breathing is an ancient practice that has been used for thousands of years to improve health and happiness. It’s also known as diaphragmatic breathing because it involves using your diaphragm to breathe deeply.
When you inhale, your lungs expand, filling with air. As you exhale, your lungs contract, allowing the air out of your body.
There are several benefits to deep breathing. For example, it helps you relax and calm down. It improves your mood and makes you feel better. It also helps you sleep better at night.
In this article, we’ll dive deeper into how deep breathing increases serotonin levels in your brain. We will then show you some simple ways to start practicing deep breathing today!
How Does Deep Breathing Work?
The first step in learning any new skill or technique is understanding what you need to know before trying it. In this case, let me give you a quick overview of how deep breathing works:
As you take a breath in through your nose, your chest expands outward. Your ribcage moves up toward your neck. This movement creates space between your ribs and your sternum. The more space there is between them, the deeper your inhalation becomes.
Your stomach muscles move inward during exhalation, which causes your abdomen to flatten out. When you inhale, your belly rises; when you exhale, it drops back down again.
Why is deep breathing important?
The human body needs air to survive. Without proper ventilation, life would cease almost immediately. The lungs filter harmful particles from the environment and deliver fresh oxygenated air to every cell in the body. This process happens automatically whenever we breathe. But sometimes we forget about this vital function. We hold our breath instead of letting it flow freely. That means less oxygen enters the bloodstream and fewer nutrients reach the organs. As a result, we become sluggish and lethargic.
serotonin & our mood: what relationship
Neurotransmitters like serotonin play a crucial role in our emotional health.
It’s not only crucial for sleep and digestion, but it also affects how we feel emotionally. When your body produces too little or too much serotonin, you may experience depression, anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders, migraines, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, restless leg syndrome, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and more.
When your body doesn’t produce enough serotonin, you might be feeling anxious, depressed, angry, sad, guilty, frustrated, overwhelmed, stressed, tired, unfocused, unmotivated, etc.
And when your body overproduces serotonin, you could suffer from OCD, compulsive behaviors like nail biting, skin picking, hair pulling, teeth grinding, bingeing/purging, bulimia, alcoholism, drug addiction, gambling, sexual compulsions, etc.
In light of this, can deep breathing enhance serotonin production? If so, how does that affect us?
Does Deep Breathing Increase Serotonin?
The short answer: Yes!
But before I get into how you should be doing deep breathing, let me explain what exactly happens when you breathe deeply.
When you inhale through your nose, air enters your lungs and fills them up with oxygen. This causes blood vessels around your brain to dilate, which increases blood flow.
This means more nutrients are delivered to your brain, allowing it to function at its best. It also helps clear toxins from your bloodstream, making way for better mental clarity.
As soon as you exhale, carbon dioxide leaves your body via your mouth and nasal passages. The exhalation process triggers the release of endorphins in your brain, causing feelings of relaxation and happiness.
This is because endorphins help reduce pain and promote positive emotions. They’re also known to improve concentration, relieve fatigue, boost energy, and make you happy.
How Does Deep Belly Breathing Work For You?
There are two main ways to do deep belly breathing. One involves using your diaphragm, while the other uses your abdominal muscles.
Both methods work great, but there are pros and cons to each approach. Let’s take a look at both options.
- Diaphragmatic Breath
Diaphragmatic breath works by filling your stomach first then moving down towards your chest. To start, sit upright on the floor or chair with knees bent slightly. Place one hand under your rib cage and place the opposite arm across your abdomen.
Next, slowly inhale through your nose until your ribs expand outward. As you continue to inhale, allow your shoulders to drop away from your ears. Once you’ve reached maximum expansion, hold your breath for three seconds. Then slowly exhale through your mouth, keeping your lips pursed together. Repeat 10 times.
- Abdominal Breath
Abdominal breath works by expanding your lower abs first, followed by your upper abs. Start sitting upright again with hands placed underneath your ribcage. Next, gently pull your navel toward your spine.
Now, slowly inhale through the bottom half of your nostrils until your navel expands outward. Hold your breath for 3-5 seconds. Exhale through your top lip. Do not purse your lips. Continue alternating between inhalations and exhalations for 20 breaths.
Which Method Is Better?
It depends on who you ask. Some people prefer the abdominal approach since they feel their core gets more robust during the practice. Others say the diaphragmatic technique feels easier since it requires less effort.
I find both approaches equally effective. But whichever method you choose, remember to focus on your breathing rather than thinking about anything else. If you try too hard, you’ll only strain yourself.
How To Do Deep Belly Breaths For A Happier Mind?
Now that we know that deep belly breaths do indeed increase serotonin, there are several ways you can incorporate these simple yet powerful moves into your daily routine.
Here are three easy steps to start incorporating deeper breathing into your life today:
1. Sit Up Straight With Your Back Tucked In & Feet Flat On Floor
2. Place Both Hands Over Your Heart
3. Take 3 Slow Counted Exhales Through Nose While Keeping Mouth Closed
4. Repeat Steps 1–3 As Many Times As Needed Until Feeling Relaxed
5. Once done, sit back upright again and notice any changes in your mood. If you feel calmer, then keep going until you reach your desired level of calmness.
6. When ready, slowly open your eyes and gently stretch your arms above your head. Notice any differences between your current state of being and your new relaxed state of being.
7. Finally, stand up straight once again and repeat steps one through six.
If you want even more benefits from deep breathing, try adding meditation to your day. Meditation has been proven time and time again to have many health benefits, including reducing stress, improving sleep quality, boosting immunity, and promoting overall well-being.
Others Benefits of deep breathing
Deep breathing has many benefits, including reducing inflammation, boosting immunity, lowering cholesterol, relieving pain, calming nerves, easing headaches, promoting relaxation, and improving concentration.
Here are six ways deep breathing improves your life:
Deep Breathing Improves Your Immune System
When you breathe deeply, oxygen enters your bloodstream, which helps boost your body’s natural defenses against illness. This includes strengthening your lungs, so they don’t become inflamed when exposed to allergens like pollen and dust mites. It also strengthens your blood vessels, so they remain healthy and flexible.
Deep Breathing Relieves Pain
Studies show that people who regularly perform abdominal exercises such as yoga and tai chi experience lower chronic pain rates than those who don’t. This may be because deep breathing increases circulation throughout the entire body, thereby increasing the flow of nutrients and oxygen to areas where muscles and joints ache.
Deep Breathing Promotes Calm Nerves
Research shows that deep breathing reduces anxiety by decreasing activity in the amygdala. The amygdala is responsible for processing fear responses and emotions. By using deep breathing to relax your nervous system, you’ll reduce feelings of panic and worry.
Deep Breathing Boosts Concentration & Memory
Research suggests that deep breathing boosts memory retention by stimulating the hippocampus. In addition, studies suggest that deep breathing promotes focus and attention by activating parts of the prefrontal cortex involved in decision making and problem solving.
Deep Breathing Reduces Stress Levels
A study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine found that deep breathing reduced cortisol levels in stressed participants. Cortisol is a hormone released during periods of high stress. Lowering cortisol levels means less stress response.
Deep Breathing Helps Reduce Anxiety
The American Psychological Association says that deep breathing calms the sympathetic nervous system. When the parasympathetic nervous system takes over after being activated by deep breathing, it triggers an endorphin release that makes us feel relaxed.
How do I know whether my breath is shallow or deep?
To find out, take a moment to breathe deeply through your nose while counting slowly as you inhale and exhale. You should notice that there’s a difference between the number of times you inhaled versus the number of times you exhaled. If you were able to count at least 10 breaths without stopping, then you’re likely taking long, slow, deep breaths.
If you couldn’t get past 5 counts, chances are you’re either holding your breath or taking quick short breaths. Either way, you need to work on improving your breathing habits!
Deep Breathing and Serotonin: Q & A
What are the signs of low serotonin levels?
Low serotonin levels have many symptoms, including depression, fatigue, insomnia, irritability, weight gain, poor concentration, headaches, and more. Low serotonin levels can even lead to suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
Is deep breathing good for me if I’m already depressed?
Yes. Deep breathing has proven benefits for both physical health and mental well-being. Studies show that deep breathing improves sleep quality, lowers cholesterol, decreases inflammation, and relieves muscle tension. All these factors contribute to overall wellness.
Does deep breathing make me look younger?
Studies show that people who practice yoga regularly tend to be thinner than those who don’t. Yoga also helps improve posture which contributes to looking slimmer.
Are there any other ways to boost serotonin besides deep breathing?
There are plenty of things you can try to raise serotonin levels naturally. The first method involves taking supplements. Some include 5-HTP, L-tryptophan, melatonin, SAMe, St. John’s wort, and others. Other methods include eating foods rich in certain nutrients such as B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, iron, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin D3, and probiotics.
You might also want to consider using meditation to help calm yourself down when feeling anxious or overwhelmed. Meditation will not only lower anxiety but also reduce pain and promote relaxation.
Also, regular exercise like walking or running can help keep your body healthy and strong. It may sound simple, but exercising daily can result in better than just doing one workout per week. Exercise releases dopamine, norepinephrine, epinephrine, and oxytocin — all neurotransmitters associated with happiness.
Do you think deep breathing works better than meditation?
Meditation isn’t always effective because it requires discipline. It’s easy to fall asleep when meditating but not so easy to stay focused. In contrast, deep breathing is easier to maintain throughout the day. Plus, studies suggest that deep breathing reduces anxiety faster than meditation does.
what depletes serotonin levels?
Depression, chronic pain, and certain medications all decrease serotonin levels in the body. These conditions often result in feelings of sadness, hopelessness, anger, agitation, and/or despair. How do antidepressants affect my serotonin level?
How much time should I spend doing deep breathing exercise each day?
You’ll want to do deep breathing every single day. The best thing about deep breathing is that it only takes minutes per session. So, you could easily fit one 20 minute session into your daily routine. You may find that you need longer sessions at times, like before bedtime or after meals. If you’re having trouble sticking to an exercise regimen, start by practicing deep breathing during breaks from work or school. Then gradually build up to 30 minutes three times per week.
The Bottom Line
Many different factors affect our moods. But what we eat, sleep, stress levels, etc., all play an essential role too.
So while deep breathing alone won’t magically change your life overnight, it could be part of a bigger picture that helps improve your overall health and well being.
Do you think deep breathing increases serotonin? Share your experience below!
I am so happy to hear from you. It sounds like you are doing great. Please keep up all the hard work. Your results will come soon enough. Take care and stay positive.