The 5 mental health benefits of heavy breathing

Heavy-Breathing-ExportedWritten by Trish

“You’re not doing it right!”

“How can I not be doing it right?  I’m breathing!”

Does this sound familiar?  It was the conversation I used to have with myself every time I thought about undertaking breathing exercises.  I had heard so many versions of how to breathe that I was confused into not doing it at all.

It wasn’t until I learned about the mental health benefits that I dedicated myself to heavy breathing… well most gurus call it breathing deeply (where’s the fun in that?)

  1. Breathing deeply causes the nervous system to calm down.  I think that’s why we’re always instructed to breathe when we’re having an anxiety attack (though I never quite mastered that one!)  Breathing deeply for 10 minutes can have a calming effect on the nervous system for up to 48 hours!
  2. Breathing deeply elevates your mood.  Scientifically it increases the production of pleasure-inducing neurochemicals… enough with the scientific babble… just try it and see how much lighter you feel.
  3. Breathing deeply helps you to clear the unease you experience with certain emotions.  I find that if I breathe into where the emotion is showing up in my body, it moves on quickly.  Take that overwhelming emotion!
  4. Breathing deeply causes your brain to receive more oxygen.  Your brain needs oxygen to function optimally, therefore breathing deeply = high performance brain.  Now who among us doesn’t need a high performance brain to counteract the side effects of the meds?
  5. Focusing on your breath as you breathe deeply connects you with your body (i.e. gets you out of your head).  It promotes clarity and a feeling of being grounded.  Now show me a person who doesn’t want to feel grounded every once in a while.


Breathing properly (don’t let it stop you from breathing!)

How did I learn to breathe properly?  I just started to breathe deeper for a set period of time.  Then when I felt comfortable, I inhaled through my nose and exhaled through my mouth, trying to do so at the same rate.  I focused on breathing as deeply as I could.

The real trick is making the time.

Commit.  Schedule.  Execute.  Daily.  Feel the benefits.


What do you think?

I’d love to hear from you on this.

Have you implemented breathing exercises into your routine?  How’s that working out for you?  And if you haven’t, what’s holding you back?

Please share your experience in the comments below so we can all learn from you.


Cartoon Credit: Trish Hurtubise


Trish HurtubiseHi. I’m Trish Hurtubise…the founder, curator and an editor for Mental Health Talk. I love serving those who are relegated to the shadows by society by giving them a platform to share their voice and be seen and heard… hence my passion for working with all the wonderful people who have shared their stories and wisdom on MHT.

You may view all posts by me here.

Much love to you.

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  • Earla Dunbar

    I love this Trish (and for other reasons). Good One.

    • Trish

      Thank you Earla! I’m so glad to have you as part of the MHT community. You always make my day.

      • Earla Dunbar

        You add so much and help so many with your MHT. Good work my friend

  • David T

    Love it! I wonder if 1-900 charges on phone bills can be claimed as a medical expense?
    Great tips by the way!

    • Trish

      LOL! Thank you David. xo

  • Sophia

    Valuable advice! Loved the illustration, it will be on my mind the next time I practice “heavy breathing”. Thanks Trisha.

  • Bob Brotchie

    Great advice as ever, Trish!
    I think back to when I first recall using deep breathing for benefit and I think it was at times just before a job interview.
    I’d found that if I breathed deeply – and slowly (wouldn’t want to hyper-ventilate) for 2-3 mins whilst waiting to be called in, it made all the difference in performance.
    One of my problems in the past has been the sneaky ‘tight diaphragm’ when required to speak under pressure. If you’ve ever experienced this, you’ll know you feel out of breath! This might happen to me during a radio or TV interview, as well as the job interview, but with premeditated deep breathing before hand, it’s much less likely.
    A technique I often use today is ‘four part breathing’. You may have heard of it under different names.
    “Breath in to the count of 4”.
    then hold for the count of four…
    exhale to the count of four…
    Hold for the count of four…
    As you get more ‘in tune’, slow the counting down. One…………….two………….three……………four!

    Do this for as long as you need, and whilst doing this, check in with your muscles, ensuring they’re relaxed too!

    Hope that helps!

    Warmest wishes

    • Trish

      Thanks for including your breathing technique Bob. I personally use a technique that is in for a 5 count and out for a 5 count (I worked up to that) based on optimizing heart rate variability. I do it for 10 minutes a day, sometimes twice a day, and then when I need it when in a state of anxiety. It has done wonders for my ability to manage my anxiety attacks and for my overall cardiovascular health. I used to be a very shallow breather. I also believe it has helped me to be less anxious overall. It is one of the few techniques I have found that started to work right away and continues to work to help me manage my health.

      You spoke of job interviews and interviews on radio and TV. Have you ever tried to power pose? Such a simple technique that works wonders.

      Much love,

      • Bob Brotchie

        Thanks for that link, Trish. I will be adding that to my ‘toolbox’. I also recognise shallow breathing as being something I have to be vigilant of.
        Warmest wishes, as ever.

  • mom

    Love the cartoon Trish.
    I will have to get this post from you and read it to my UCW group.
    The old trick counting to ten helps me. I count more slowly now that I am older and wiser.
    Another great job.
    Love you

    • Trish

      Thanks Mom. I will send you the post in pdf. I will also send you the cartoon separately so you can print it out and show it to the ladies.

      As always, thank you for your support.


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