Scientists confirm the one quick action that can instantly relieve stress

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Helen Booth
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We’ve always been told that taking a few deep breaths can lower our stress levels – and now science says it’s a fact.

When we’re feeling anxious or stressed, it’s common wisdom that the most effective course of action is to take a few deep breaths – although we’ve never really known why.

But now, science has provided the evidence to confirm that paying attention to our breathing really does have a positive effect on our mental wellbeing.

According to a recent study published in the Journal of Neurophysiology, just thinking about breathing can light up different parts of the brain. The results of the study, which focused on seizure patients who had electrodes implanted into their brains as part of their treatment, means that scientists are now one step closer to learning how we can manipulate parts of the brain previously considered out of our control.

In a report for Quartzy, the study’s co-author, Morgan Cerf, claims that the research “may lead to greater focus, calmness, and emotional control.”

“During times of stress, or when heightened concentration is needed, focusing on one’s breathing or doing breathing exercises can indeed change the brain,” writes Cerf. “This has potential application to individuals in a variety of professions that require extreme focus and agility. Athletes, for example, have long been known to utilize breathing to improve their performance. Now, this research puts science behind that practice.”

So next time you’re feeling under pressure, go ahead and take a few deep breaths. As well as making you feel better, it might improve your performance too. What’s more, it’s simple, free and easy – the best kind of therapy, if you ask us.

Image: Eli Defaria