Take a deep breath to de-stress yourself

03 April, London

Do you get stressed on receiving bad news or nervous before a job interview? Relax! Here is the solution – start doing deep-breathing to instantly help yourself, suggests a study.

Scientists from Stanford University’s school of medicine in the U.S. have discovered the specific neurons that connect breathing and state of mind, which are located deep in the brainstem, in the body’s breathing control centre, since there are so many types of breathing; including regular, excited, sleeping, laughing, crying and yawning, reports the Independent.

They decided to pin down which specific neurons within the centre that generate the different types of breathing.

They did this by wiping out some of these neurons in mice and realised that in doing so they would cut the connection between arousal and breathing type. The mice became very relaxed, because their brains no longer had a reason to breathe faster.

Further analysis showed that while these mice still displayed the full palette of breathing varieties from sighs to sniffs, the relative proportions of those varieties had changed.

There were fewer fast “active” and faster “sniffing” breaths and more slow breaths associated with chilling out.

The investigators surmised that rather than regulating breathing, these neurons were spying on it instead and reporting their finding to another structure in the brainstem.

This structure, the locus coeruleus, sends projections to practically every part of the brain and drives arousal: waking us from sleep, maintaining our alertness and if excessive, triggering anxiety and distress.

In other words – these neurons play a big part in the effects of breathing on everything else, including arousal and emotion. So slower breathing equals calmer feelings.

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