Humans respond to stress by inhaling air to be able to engage in fight or running away.
This “Fight or Flight” response increases heart rate and starts secretion of various stress hormones, therefore digestion slows down and the activity of cognitive functions is increased. Exhalation through pursed lips is opposite in its effect.
Exhale through pursed lips
Exhalation through pursed lips is longer and more efficient than exhalation through nose, consequently the body relaxes more. It looks like a sigh of relief. Lack of such an exhalation in everyday behavior imposes a lasting impact in the form of high blood pressure and disturbed digestion that may even lead to stomach ulcers.
Is asthma stressful?
Feeling breathless is body's most natural fear resulting in much higher stress levels in individuals. Additionaly, stress can cause asthma attack and asthma does cause stress. We call this Positive feedback loop; When kids are in stress, their heart rate is increased, when heart rate is increased it can cause an asthma attack. Consequently kids with asthma are more sensitive to stress.
Why Breathing VR?
VR has lately been proposed to be used in psychiatry considering various treatments of phobias, anxiety and many behavioural disorders. At Breathing Labs, we have combined psychoactive VR games with pursed lip breathing technique which is a technique of prolonged exhalation that triggers a “relief” also called “rest & digest” response in all mammals.
How kids learn to breathe healthier?
By playing breathing exercises we train kids to recondition a stress response from inhaling to an exhaling breathing pattern which increases parasympathetic activity of nervous system. It results in a relaxed, calm and healthy behavior. You can try it right now. Imagine any visual image that makes you anxious and simultaneously exhale like you would want to blow a candle. Exhale as much as possible while simultaneously visualizing that visual in your mind. Your brain now conditions this visual stimulus with the parasympathetic tone that is being induced by neurons in the brainstem. The next time you are confronted with this visual stimulus, your brain will trigger the parasympathetic tone as it was conditioned by the above experiment consequently slowing heart, relaxing muscles and promoting digestion. If you reverse this experiment, imagine the same visual and try inhaling simultaneously you would condition a sympathetic arousal similar to a Fight and Flight response that could escalate.
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"Keep using the pursed-lip breathing until the breathless feeling goes away. Rest In between breaths if you feel Dizzy. Give sips of room temperature water."
American Lung Association
“Pursed-lip breathing attempts to prolong active expiration through half-opened lips, thus helping to prevent airway collapse. Compared with spontaneous breathing, pursed-lip breathing reduces respiratory rate, dyspnea, and PaCO2, while improving tidal volume and oxygen saturation in resting conditions."
American Thoracic Society
"Pursed lip breathing is one of the simplest ways to control shortness of breath. It provides a quick and easy way to slow your pace of breathing, making each breath more effective."
“Inhaling through the nose and exhaling through pursed lips makes breathing easier. Pursed-lip breathing can also help you regain control if you’re having trouble catching your breath. You can practice breathing this way anytime, anywhere. If you’re watching TV, practice during the commercials. Try to practice several times a day. Over time, pursed-lip breathing will feel natural.”
University of Minnesota Medical Center
“Pursed lip breathing helps you use less energy to breathe. It can help you relax. When you are short of breath, it helps you slow the pace of your breathing and can help you feel less short of breath."
University of Iowa Children's Hospital