How long can you hold your breath? A few seconds to 5 minutes tops (for people who really mastered the art of holding their breath). The reason for it is that your brain shuts down without air, and since your brain controls all the functions vital to your body, when it shuts down you die.
Yet, most of us don’t breathe properly. Remember last time something happened that upset you – what was your reaction? Most likely, you stopped breathing for a few moments and tensed your neck and shoulders. This is a very common reaction to a stressful event. Since we are constantly bombarded with stressful events, we hold our breath and take shallow breaths most of the time.
By taking deeper breaths you signal your Central Nervous System that you are not under any real danger, that the “fight or flight” reaction is voided, and its mechanisms can be restored to normal activity. Your brain, in turn, sends signals to your body that the blood can return to its normal functions, that the muscles can relax, and that the extra cortisol hormone levels can be restored to balance. Remember to take deep breaths also as you are preparing to go to sleep, as they will help you drift to sleep more easily and avoid insomnia.
So, when a stressful event happens, remember to breathe. Take a few moments to really breathe deeply and to relax your neck and shoulders. As you breathe more deeply, more oxygen goes to your brain and helps lift your moods. Breathe!