What is "paced breathing" and is it helpful for menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes?
Paced breathing is slow, deep, diaphragmatic breathing. With normal breathing, you take about 12 to 14 breaths a minute. By comparison, with paced breathing you take only 5 to 7 breaths a minute. The paced breaths are slow, smooth and deep enough to move your diaphragm — the muscular wall located beneath your lungs — as you take deeper breaths. The goal of paced breathing is to reduce the stress chemicals your brain produces and facilitate a relaxation response.
Some evidence shows that paced breathing may be effective in reducing menopausal hot flashes, including how often they occur and how severe they are. Paced breathing may also help lower blood pressure, decrease anxiety and promote relaxation.
You can teach yourself paced breathing — for instance, from an app, podcast or Web-based program — or you can seek the help of an expert.
Paced breathing may not be appropriate if you experience dizziness or have hyperventilation problems. Otherwise, paced breathing is a generally safe mind-body approach to enhance relaxation.