Feeling nauseous can be one of the most unpleasant experiences out there, especially when you know it usually only ever ends one way.
The reasons we feel nauseous can vary widely, from consuming too much food, alcohol, specific medical treatments, motion sickness, and pregnancy. Fear and anxiety can often lead to feelings of nausea as well, with many people reacting to extreme stress by vomiting.
However, while the reasons why nausea and vomiting occur can be vast – the methods available for relief are limited. Thankfully, with a little bit of understanding of how the body works and how nausea occurs, we can use deep breathing practices to manage the condition effectively.
In today's blog, we’ll be exploring the reasons for nausea and vomiting before taking a deeper look into how deep breathing is an effective treatment method.
Nausea & Anxiety
One of the primary ways nausea occurs is through anxiety or fear-induced responses. Stress is also a considerable factor when nausea occurs, as chronic stress can negatively affect the body over time.
Fundamentally, the reason we feel nausea during bouts of stress, fear, and/or anxiety comes down to how our body processes these feelings through the fight or flight response. During moments of high stress, our fight or flight response punishes our bodies to breathe faster, giving us the ability to process information more quickly to avoid imminent danger.
The digestive system is also affected by the flight or fight response, leading many to void their bowels in response to severe moments of extreme stress. Nausea is a function of the digestive system, meaning the feeling is a response to the stimuli presented through our fight or flight response.
Breathing Through Nausea
One of the oldest tricks out there to reduce the intensity of nausea felt is to breathe while covering the nose and mouth with a paper bag. The trick works because the paper bag catches exhaled carbon dioxide, forcing the person to inhale the air again and increasing the amount of CO2 in their system. CO2 is a calming molecule for the body, thus reducing the amount of stress felt and inhibiting the sensation of nausea.
Thankfully, through deep breathing, we can achieve similar results without needing a paper bag.
The 4-7-8 breathing technique is a modern form of pranayama and involves slow, controlled, deep breathing that lowers blood pressure and facilitates relaxation in the body.
- Breathe through your nose while counting to four, keeping your tongue at the top of your mouth.
- Hold that breath for seven seconds.
- Exhale through your mouth for a count of eight seconds.
This technique is commonly taught in yoga and is vital to meditative practices that require the body to stay relaxed. As a result, this technique is ideal when dealing with stress that can lead to feelings of nausea.
For more information regarding how to manage your breathing for a more effective lifestyle, visit our other blogs here at The Exhale to get the latest tips and tricks. For free guided breathing exercises that you can take anywhere, try out the Breathwrk app here.
And remember: Breathe Better, Live Better.