middle age woman breathing

Why breathing is exploding in popularity as an effective self-care tool

Written by: Yordi Uytersprot



Time to read 2 min

Breathing as a new way of dealing with stress

Breathing is a life function that is directly linked to our well-being. "Every time you exhale, you stimulate the parasympathetic (resting) nervous system, your heart rate slows down and your blood pressure decreases," says professor Steven Laureys, renowned neurologist and author of The no-nonsense meditation book and ditto sleep book. "In addition, it is also a useful anchor to hold your attention and get a grip on your monkey mind - that permanent stream of thoughts which sometimes turns into overthinking and anxiety, keeping you awake in bed at night."

‘We cannot tackle anxiety, insomnia and burnout with medication alone.’

By breathing more slowly, we can activate the body's recovery and relaxation response, making it easier to relax, calm down and sleep. Slow breathing helps to instantly take the edge off our day, as it works like a remote control for the nervous system. Why are we (only) discovering this now? Laureys: "Studies show that the need to deal with stress in a different - non-pharmaceutical - way is increasing rapidly, especially since COVID-19. I also notice this at my consultations as a neurologist. It is not only with tranquilizers that we must tackle anxiety, insomnia and burn-out. Each of us has the opportunity, and the responsibility, to work on our mental well-being through changes in lifestyle, including relaxation and breathing exercises.

Everyone benefits from conscious breathing

Nikki van der Velden, founder of  The Breathwork Movement  , an online platform dedicated to the power of breathing, also notices that the public is starting to discover and embrace the breath as an effective self-help tool. Conscious breathing is extremely powerful, on a physical, emotional and mental level. Many modern, often stress-related, illnesses can be prevented or even cured with it.

"However, many people are not aware of this, since very little is shared about this natural ‘medicine’," Van der Velden points out. "Information about breathing as a self-help tool came almost exclusively from the scientific corner, or from the alternative one. By shedding more light on it, and sharing as much knowledge and inspiration as possible, a wide audience can discover that truly everyone can benefit from conscious breathing."

The rise of science-based health-tech

In line with the rise in popularity of breathwork, more and more apps, tools and wearables that support breathing exercises are appearing on the market. This can be of great added value in the context of guidance, daily reminders, and (bio)feedback.

At moonbird, we have developed a specific device that intuitively guides you through calming breathing exercises. Professor Steven Laureys sees this as a useful tool for those who, like many of his patients, wonder whether they are 'doing it right', and how they can control their breathing better themselves. Laureys: "Besides the fact that smartwatches and other wearables can be useful tools, the breath pacer of moonbird goes one step further. It is a device that you hold in your hand while it contracts and expands, presenting the ideal breathing rate while it provides feedback on your heart rate."

By now, thousands of satisfied users have found their way to moonbird and more than 300 coaches, psychologists and hospitals in Belgium and the Netherlands work with the tool to help clients manage stress and improve their mental well-being. This again shows that conscious breathing is discovered by more and more people, and that the right tools to accompany this are of great added value.

Wondering what moonbird can do for you? See   how breathing with moonbird works.

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