Breathing Exercises for Glowing Skin


Breathing exercises for glowing skin…is this a joke?

Surely you can’t get radiant skin by simply breathing?

Maybe not when everything is normal, calm, and relaxed. But ask yourself: How often do you feel normal, calm, and relaxed?

The truth is that most of us are stressed out these days. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), nearly two out of five Americans rated their mental health as only fair to poor at the end of 2022—up from 31 percent the year before.

More than one in four reported experiencing more stress at the start of 2023, up from one in five the previous year.

And stress wreaks havoc on your skin. Scientists have discovered a brain-skin connection that can explain why when you feel stressed out, your eczema flares up, your breakouts increase, and your wrinkles appear more noticeable.

Deep breathing­—because of its connection to stress relief and relaxation—may be just what you need to counteract today’s stressful lifestyles and enjoy more radiant, healthy skin.

Breathing Exercises for Glowing Skin: It Starts with Stress

We’re learning more and more about how our bodies and minds are interconnected, with pathways in the nerves and blood vessels constantly communicating with each other.

Recent studies reveal an intricate relationship between psychological stress and skin problems, particularly those associated with inflammation. Any time you suffer from emotional stress, your brain stimulates the release of stress hormones like cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine.

These hormones get your body ready for the “fight or flight” response you’ve probably heard about. But they can also negatively affect the skin, causing immune changes that lead to inflammation, and reduced blood flow that can cause the skin to react with dryness, blemishes, and rashes.

According to Harvard Health, stress also suppresses the immune system, increasing your susceptibility to colds and other illnesses and increasing the risk of anxiety and depression. Since the skin contains immune cells too, a change in the immune reaction can throw these cells out of whack, triggering psoriasis flare-ups, allergic reactions, and even infections.

High cortisol levels—which accompany chronic stress—are also associated with impaired skin barrier functioning and premature aging. Altogether, when you’re stressed, you can expect more redness, rashes, itching, dullness, and fine lines and wrinkles.

Breathing Exercises Men

Breathing Exercises for Glowing Skin: What’s the Connection?

One of the first symptoms humans display when they’re stressed is shallow breathing. This, in turn, stimulates muscle tension which can further exacerbate the stress response.

Deep breathing helps to counteract stress. Also called “diaphragmatic breathing” or “belly breathing,” it changes the focus of the breath from the chest to the stomach.

In today’s world, belly breathing feels unnatural to many people because they’re so used to shallow, chest breathing. This is often because of stress or a desire to hold in the stomach for appearance’s sake. But relying only on chest breathing means you’re using only the upper part of the lungs when you breathe in.

The rest of the lungs are lower in the body, closer to your belly. When you use the entire lung area to breathe, you breathe more deeply—taking more air in. You can then exhale more air as well. Doing that encourages full oxygen exchange, slowing the heartbeat and stabilizing blood pressure.

According to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), deep breathing allows you to rapidly increase the amount of oxygen in your blood to a much greater extent than chest breathing.

When you take an abdominal breath, your brain detects the increased oxygen and responds by decreasing the concentration of stress hormones in your blood—great news for your skin.

In a University of Arizona study, scientists found that deep breathing exercises combined with meditation were more effective at reducing stress and boosting mood than conventional, cognitive strategies for stress management.

Breathing Exercises Woman

Breathing Exercises for Glowing Skin

If you want to try deep breathing exercises, you have nothing to lose. They’re easy to do, don’t require any extra equipment, and can be done anywhere anytime.

We’ve got a few suggestions below. The key is to reduce your stressful feelings and promote a more calm and relaxed feeling that will benefit your skin. Find an exercise that works for you, then practice it daily for at least a week to see if you notice an improvement.

1. The 4-7-8 Method

This is a relaxing breathing method promoted by Andrew Weil, M.D. He calls it the “perfect, portable stress antidote,” as it is super simple and can be done anywhere.

You can do the exercise in any position, but when you’re learning it, it’s best to sit with your back straight. Place the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth just behind your front teeth. Keep it there through the entire exercise.

Next, exhale completely through your mouth, making a whooshing sound. Then close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose while you count slowly from 1 to 4. Hold your breath for a count of 7. Exhale completely through the mouth, making the whooshing sound for a count of 8. Repeat three more times for a total of four breaths.

Dr. Weil emphasizes that the ratio of 4:7:8 is important for the proper benefits.

2. The 5-5 Breath

This exercise helps slow down your breathing when you’re feeling particularly stressed or worked up.

Start by focusing on the natural rhythm of your breath. Then for one minute, breathe in for 4 seconds and out for 4 seconds. For the next minute, breathe in for 5 seconds and breathe out for 5 seconds. For the next minute, breathe in for 6 seconds and out for 6 seconds. You can continue to expand the time as you like up to 10 seconds for each.

The idea is to gradually slow and relax your breath, which will, in turn, slow and relax your entire body. Perform the exercise for 5 minutes up to 20 minutes.

3. Straw Breathing

This technique helps to bring about a cooling sensation throughout the body. If you’re “getting hot” or feeling angry, this may be the best exercise for you.

Begin by contorting your mouth into a tight “O” shape, as if you’re blowing a kiss. Or you can get an actual straw to breathe through.

Inhale through the straw or “O” shape. Pause for a beat or two, holding your breath. Then exhale through the straw or “O” shape. Repeat several times until you feel calmer.

4. Finger Breathing

This method is great if you feel like you can’t get out of your own head and you want to be more present in the moment.

Start by sitting in a comfortable position. Put your left hand facing palm up on your lap. As you inhale, with your right hand, trace up your thumb with one finger. As you exhale, trace your thumb in a downward motion.

Repeat with each of your fingers until you’ve traced through all five, or until you feel calm. Take your time with each finger—the key is to go slow and complete each inhale and exhale.

Have you tried deep breathing exercises?

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