Stress – unfortunately – is part of our life. Even the most joyous times, like the holidays, can be messed up with moments of tension. While you can’t stop stressors from coming your way, there are a few things you can do to manage your body’s response, so you can feel better. There are different types of techniques to ease stress, but one of them is with you all the time when you need it. It is the automatic act of breathing.
Your breath is a powerful tool to relieve stress and anxiety and make you feel calm and relaxed. A good breathing exercise can make a big difference if you make them part of your regular routine. It can help you keep your mind and body functioning at their best. All you need is you, your lungs, and 10 minutes of your time.
Before you get started, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Most breathing exercises can be done standing up or sitting down. Find the place and pose you feel most comfortable in.
- Your exhale should be two times longer than your inhale. When the exhale is even a few counts longer than the inhale, it turns up your parasympathetic nervous system, which puts your body into a state of calm and healing.
- Never force it. If you feel anxious due to being unable to do the exercise correctly, stop. Try again later. Doing these exercises correctly requires some practice, so don’t be impatient.
- If you have more time, you can do these exercises for 10 minutes or longer, but just a few minutes of breathing can work wonders.
Here are 2 quick, yet really effective breathing techniques:
- Sit or lie flat in a comfortable position.
- Put one hand on your belly just below your ribs and the other hand on your chest.
- Breathe in through your nose. Feel your belly rise. Your chest should not move.
- Breathe out through pursed lips as if you were whistling. Feel your belly lower and push all the air out.
- Take 3 to 10 more full, deep breaths.
- Sit or lie flat in a comfortable position. Close your eyes.
- Take a few big, deep breaths.
- Breathe in through your nose and imagine that the air is filled with a sense of peace and calm. Try to feel it throughout your body.
- Breathe out through pursed lips and imagine that the air leaves with your stress and tension.
- As you breathe in, say in your mind, “I breathe in peace and calm.”
- As you breathe out, say in your mind, “I breathe out stress and tension.”
- Continue for 10 to 20 minutes.
- Notice how you feel at the end of the exercise.