Does deep breathing increase serotonin? Most definitely. Deliberate practice of deep breathing can boost your mood, reduce stress, increase happiness molecules like serotonin, reduce pain, and even aid physical aspects of health like digestion and blood pressure. Keep reading below to find out more…
We breathe every day, without thinking about it.
Now, consider this: when was the last time you took a nice, big deep breath? Most of us don’t take deep breaths as frequently as we think. I’d even go as far as to say only a few times per day.
But did you know that deep breathing has a massive impact on your mood and well being?
I was amazed by the benefits I noticed when I first got into the practice of deep breathing. My mood improved and I saw greater mental clarity.
And the science confirms this – showing that deep breathing indeed has a profound impact on our physiology, more so our mood.
Your ‘happiness’ neurotransmitter serotonin is compromised under the presence of cortisol, the stress hormone. Deep breathing can help with this, naturally calming nerves and boosting your mood.
If you wish to know more, simply keep reading as I explain in detail how deep breathing can increase your serotonin…
Serotonin & Your Mood
Serotonin is one of those brain chemicals that play a key role in our emotional health. It’s not only important for sleep and digestion, you also need it for mood, focus, and mental clarity.
Serotonin is often referred to as the “happiness hormone” by doctors and health gurus. And that’s no wonder, considering that low serotonin levels can lead to depression, anxiety, poor sleep, and even weight issues.
However, you’d be surprised at how many things we do every day that disrupt our natural serotonin production. From drinking too much alcohol and eating too much sugar to being under constant stress.
So this then begs the question; is deep breathing a good way to counter these negative lifestyle factors, and boost serotonin in the process? I give you the full answer in the next section.
Does Deep Breathing Increase Serotonin?
As I’ve repeated in the intro, the answer to “does deep breathing increase serotonin” is a definite yes.
Now, there’s one main way in which deep breathing increases your happiness hormone. It’s through the reduction of cortisol. (1)
Cortisol is the chief stress hormone in your body. Too much of it can hammer down your serotonin levels and lead to mood issues – as shown in this study.
By stabilizing your cortisol levels, deep breathing will help to not only restore balance to your serotonin but also make you feel better and happier. Deep breathing also reduces your heart rate and ultimately helps your brain to relax. This can be of huge help if you’re having trouble falling asleep.
Additional Benefits of Deep Breathing
Now, deep breathing (or diaphragmatic breathing) doesn’t just help you maintain healthy serotonin levels. Here are other key benefits it offers:
- Alleviates pain. Deep breathing will not only boost serotonin, it also triggers the spurt of endorphins, your natural anti-pain chemicals.
- Detoxifies the body. Deep breathing will stimulate your lymphatic system and help with getting rid of toxins from your body. As a matter of fact, your breathing process is in charge of removing around 70% of toxins in your body. The remaining 30% is through bladder and intestines. If you don’t breathe fully, your body has a harder time getting rid of toxins.
- Boosts your energy levels. The more oxygen you have in the blood, the better your bodily functions will be. As a result, you’ll feel stronger and more energetic and have more stamina.
- Bolsters your immune system. When your body is filled with oxygen, it’s able to carry and absorb vital nutrients more effectively. In essence, the cleaner the system, the harder it is for illness to wreak havoc on you.
- Better digestion. By making deep breathing into a habit, you’ll have a healthier blood flow, which stimulates your organs to work more efficiently – this includes your intestines.
Quick Deep Breathing Guide
Okay, so you’ve seen the benefits of deep breathing. And you know that it can help boost your serotonin.
If you decided to give deep breathing a try, you might wonder how to do it correctly.
There are two great ways to practice deep (or also called diaphragmatic) breathing. The first, and the most basic procedure goes like this:
Diaphragmatic Breathing Technique
- Sit comfortably or lie flat on your bed, floor, or another comfortable surface.
- Fully relax, especially in the shoulders.
- Put one hand on your chest and another hand on your stomach.
- Take a breath through your nose for around two seconds. Focus on moving the air through your nostrils into your stomach, which will make it expand. During this key step, make your stomach move outward as your chest stays relatively still.
- Pucker your lips (as if you’re going to drink with a straw), press gently on your abdomen, and then slowly exhale for around two seconds.
- Repeat this process at least a couple of times for best results.
Rib-Stretch Breathing Technique
This is another simple and helpful deep breathing exercise, here’s how to do it:
- Stand up straight and make sure to arch your back.
- Fully exhale (breathe out) until you can’t anymore.
- Breathe in slowly and gradually, inhaling as much air as you can until you just can’t anymore.
- Hold the breath for around 10 seconds.
- Exhale slowly with your mouth. You can do it either normally or with pursed lips.
Anything Else to Consider?
Now, if you didn’t practice deep breathing regularly in the past, it might feel a bit unnatural when you start doing it. Your body simply isn’t used to it, and just like with any new skill, it takes consistent practice to master.
To not get overwhelmed, I suggest doing just one breathing exercise per day to start with. Over time, as this becomes a habit, you can incorporate more deep breathing sessions throughout your day. You may notice that your body starts to naturally crave deep breathing as you continue to do it.
Wrapping up – Does Deep Breathing Increase Serotonin?
Deep breathing is something not many of us do. Yet it’s incredibly powerful for raising your feel-good hormones like serotonin, along with reducing pain, easing digestion, and promoting overall well-being.
If you’ve never practiced deep breathing before, a basic diaphragmatic or rib-stretching breathing exercises are good places to start.
Remember that it’s a skill like any other. It will take some practice before it becomes a habit and you notice some of its benefits.
For me, it took me a good two weeks or so before I really got the most out of this exercise. I noticed my mood lift and my focus increase. If there was one thing that helped me stay consistent with it in the beginning, it was taking it one day at the time and enjoying the process.