15 August 2023 posted by Recovery Partners

Breathwork helps to reduce stress and support mental health.

Stress and mental health issues are becoming increasingly common in today’s fast-paced world. Many people are looking for ways to manage stress and improve their mental health. Breathwork, a practice that involves intentional control of breathing patterns, has gained popularity as a potential tool for stress management and improving mental health. In a recent study, researchers set out to evaluate the effectiveness of breathwork in reducing stress and improving mental health.

What they tested?

The researchers conducted a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials that investigated the effects of breathwork on stress and mental health. They identified 11 studies that met their inclusion criteria and included a total of 452 participants. The studies included various types of breathwork techniques, such as yogic breathing, Sudarshan Kriya yoga, and rhythmic breathing.

The researchers analysed the data from the 11 studies to determine the effect of breathwork on stress and mental health outcomes. They used standardised mean differences (SMD) to compare the intervention group (participants who received breathwork) with the control group (participants who did not receive breathwork).

What they found The meta-analysis found that breathwork had a significant effect on reducing stress, as measured by the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI). The SMD for PSS was -0.75 (95% CI: -1.11 to -0.40), indicating a large effect size, and the SMD for STAI was -0.50 (95% CI: -0.89 to -0.11), indicating a medium effect size.

Breathwork was also found to have a significant effect on improving mental health outcomes, as measured by the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale (DASS-21) and the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS). The SMD for DASS-21 was -0.49 (95% CI: -0.86 to -0.11), indicating a medium effect size, and the SMD for PANAS was 0.47 (95% CI: 0.01 to 0.93), indicating a small effect size.

What does this mean for individuals?

The findings of this meta-analysis suggest that breathwork can be an effective tool for managing stress and improving mental health. 

People who are looking for ways to manage stress and improve their mental health may consider incorporating breathwork into their daily routine.

What does this mean for Australian Employers?

Return to work coordinators can consider incorporating breathwork techniques as part of their stress management and mental health support programs for workers returning to work after a mental health-related absence. This may help improve the overall well-being of workers and potentially reduce the likelihood of future mental health-related absences.

What does this mean for personal injury insurers in Australia?

Personal injury insurers can consider incorporating breathwork techniques as part of their rehabilitation and recovery programs for individuals who have experienced a mental health-related injury. This may help improve the overall well-being of individuals and potentially reduce the likelihood of future mental health-related claims.

In conclusion, this meta-analysis provides evidence that breathwork can be an effective tool for managing stress and improving mental health. Individuals, return to work coordinators, and personal injury insurers can consider incorporating breathwork techniques into their daily routine or programs to help improve overall well-being and potentially reduce the likelihood of future mental health-related issues.

Resources

There are several free applications available in Australia to assist you to engage in breathwork.

Insight Timer is a free meditation app that includes guided meditations and breathing exercises. The app offers a variety of breathwork practices, including box breathing, pranayama, and alternate nostril breathing.

Headspace is another popular meditation and mindfulness app. It offers a variety of guided meditation sessions and mindfulness exercises that are designed to help users manage stress, anxiety, improve focus, and promote overall mental well-being.

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Disclaimer – these articles are provided to supply general safety information to people responsible for OHS in their organisation. They are general in nature and do not substitute for legal and/or professional advice. We always suggest that organisations obtain information specific to their needs. Additional information can be found at https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/