Breathwork and breathing is a top trend found in almost every aspect of wellness, from mental health to the workplace. The Global Wellness Institute’s Breathe Initiative compiled these top trends for 2023. They spotlight how specific aspects of the trend apply to an array of wellness environments.
TREND 1: Nasal Breathing & Mouth Tape: Bringing Relief for Asthma and Sleep Apnea
An estimated 50% of adults and between 25% and 50% of children studied persistently mouth breathe during sleep. However, the wearing of adhesive tape across or surrounding the lips can help prevent mouth breathing from occurring. Mouth taping during sleep has been applied in Europe since the late nineties and in clinical studies nasal breathing through various techniques, has been shown to aid recovery and ease symptoms for conditions such as asthma and obstructive sleep apnea.
Persistent mouth breathing can inflame asthma, obstructive sleep apnea, anxiety, COPD, rhinitis and even stunt craniofacial development in children. Furthermore, there have been a number of recent studies investigating mouth taping during sleep. One such study from Taiwan found that “Mouth-taping during sleep improved snoring and the severity of sleep apnea in mouth-breathers with mild OSA [Obstructive Sleep Apnea].” There are a number of products available, ranging from covering the mouth and lips, to elasticated tape which surrounds the mouth to bring the lips together. Now, a trend has emerged across social media on the benefits of using mouth taping to ensure nasal breathing during sleep. That includes the leader of the Goop empire Gwyneth Paltrow who recently promoted taping of the mouth during sleep.
TREND 2: Mindful Breath Does More than Just Keep You Alive–It Helps Prevent Disease
In an article from Harvard Medical School, Dr. Shalu Ramchandani, a health coach and internist at the Harvard-affiliated Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital says, “While it may seem strictly utilitarian, breathing isn’t only life-sustaining; it can be life-enhancing when used as a tool. Simple breathing exercises incorporated throughout your day can actually disengage a potentially health-harming chronic stress response and help insulate you from the damage that it can inflict on your body.”
People are seeing both the immediate and long term benefits of small moments of mindful and strategic breath. As we live in a time of record high stress levels, breath is a powerful (free and accessible to all) tool for managing daily stress and preventing stress from manifesting into something worse. If you don’t manage your stress, other wellness modalities (food, exercise) are not as effective —especially on a stressed out mind/body.
TREND 3: Breath Practices Receive Warm Welcome in the Workplace
Breathwork used to be seen as too spiritual and esoteric and therefore not a good fit for the workplace. Today it’s viewed as neuroscience and welcomed as a simple yet very effective tool for creating optimal mindset and energy at work.
Breath practices are easily integrated into busy schedules and empower people to be more present, focused, creative, kind, collaborative, productive and self-aware of their emotions and communication style. Leaders who don’t prioritize the well-being of their teams are losing top talent for companies who offer wellness content/experiences and perks that matter more for everyone’s overall health.
TREND 4: Tapping into Breath for Mental Health & Emotional Control
From MentalHealthFirstAid.org: “Research shows that our brain associates different emotions with different breathing patterns, and breathing exercises work because they trick your brain into thinking your emotional state is different than it actually is. For example, when we are happy, our breathing is regular and steady. However, when we are stressed, anxious or fearful, our breathing becomes irregular, shallow and quicker. When you slow your breathing down in times of stress you can trick your brain into thinking you’re actually in a calm state and there is no threat or challenge at hand.”
The trend: people are learning how to override their nervous system with breath to keep a healthier balance between parasympathetic and sympathetic states.
TREND 5: Breath is an Underutilized Human Superpower
Neuroscience is offering up to the minute studies on the full spectrum of the benefits of mindful and strategic breath. When you change your breath you can experience better sleep, elevated athletic performance, clearer cognition and better mood and energy. Being able to change our breath is an incredible tool that humans have. We have the power to breathe in ways that will calm, balance or boost the nervous system–depending on what you need at any given moment.
Breath is seen as a powerful antidote to the common pain points that we share globally; especially the constant need to be attached to our devices. It’s time to take control of your mood, mindset and energy through breath versus letting your devices dictate how you feel. Tap into your superpower to optimize your respiratory system, which then helps other vital systems (detoxification, digestion, cognition) work more effectively as well.