Why is “taking a deep breath” one of the most repeated pieces of advice?

Midwives to pregnant women, nurses to children who are going to be vaccinated, Psychologists to patients who arrive with anxiety … “breathe deeply” or “you, breathe” is one of the phrases that are most often used as advice in situations that can be tense or cause us discomfort .

The abdominal breathing is perhaps the most repeated psychological tool in history to get back to a state of calm or welfare, but why ?.


When you breathe deeply , the tension accumulated by the muscles is released while the body is nourished. So you are less likely to have an anxiety attack if your body is relaxed and does not have this tension.

You may not be able to control the emotion that has led you to that tense situation, but you can control its symptoms (in this case muscular tension) so that it does not increase in intensity or last over time.


This is where we find the key to understanding why deep breathing can rebalance our mind and body.

The Nervous System has two branches that work like the accelerator and the brake of a car, these are the Sympathetic (SNS) and Parasympathetic (SNP).

Let’s say the Sympathetic Nervous System is the accelerator of our organism. This is the one in charge of you singing or dancing like crazy when you like a song, that you get up excited when the day of an important event for you arrives, that you get nervous when you have to expose a work,… Therefore the SNS It is responsible for activating emotions such as fear, nerves, anxiety, joy or excitement.

Muscle tension (especially centered on the chest and abdomen) and a breath that does not drop from the chest, but remains short and shallow in the lungs, is the common factor in the body of these sensations and the activation of the SNS.

Instead, the Parasympathetic Nervous System is what we could call the brake of our organism. Thanks to it, we manage not to “explode” and sooner or later it makes our body stabilize again. All those emotions that the SNS produces (anxiety, nerves, excitement, …) decline to the extent that the SNP is naturally activated or we put tools in place to activate it. Unlike the Sympathetic, the Parasympathetic unblocks those muscular tensions and achieves a deep breath that oxygenates the entire body, which is related to a more relaxed body.

In this way we can understand why breathing slowly and deeply is one of the tips and tools that are taught on a psychological level to manage emotions .

If you need a Psychologist  to learn relaxation techniques and tools, do not hesitate to contact us. If you prefer, we also serve online .

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Alexa Clark specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has experience in listening and welcoming in Individual Therapy and Couples Therapy. It meets demands such as generalized anxiety, professional, love and family conflicts, stress, depression, sexual dysfunction, grief, and adolescents from 15 years of age. Over the years, She felt the need to conduct the psychotherapy sessions with subtlety since She understands that the psychologist acts as a facilitator of self-understanding and self-acceptance, valuing each person's respect, uniqueness, and acceptance.

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