Big inhale in through the nose, filling up the lungs. Open mouth exhale slowly allowing the breath to leave the lungs. Do this twice more, taking your time to inhale deeply and exhale fully. Did you know breathing is part of our life force? That stress + anxiety can be reduced and managed through your breath?
In times of stress or anxiety the way that we breath can be affected, causing us to breathe at a shorter and faster rate. This increase in the pace or rate of your breathing causes you to take in less oxygen which of course adds more to your stress and anxiety.
Slowing your breathing down can instantly begin the process of becoming calmer. As we slow our breathing, our focus is taken off of whatever could be causing the stress allowing our heart rate to lower and decrease muscle tension.
Why does using breathing techniques help with reducing stress?
When we are feeling stressed or overwhelmed we typically do not breath as deep as we should. Shallow breathing fills just the top portion of the lungs, keeping us from getting the true amount of oxygen that we need. Increasing our heart rate and making our body work a little harder with increased blood pressure. That’s not good in general and does not benefit us at all when we are stressed or feeling overwhelmed.
Breathing techniques requires us to pause for a moment and focus on our breath. Filling our lungs completely with oxygen while remaining focused as we empty our lungs; a lot of good happens in those moments: 1) Filling the lungs adequately 2) Shifting your focus from what could be causing the stress.
If you have been around since the start of my blog, then you know the love I have for meditation runs deep. Breathing techniques are often used in meditation almost as a anchored focus point to help calm the mind and body.
The beauty of using breathing techniques is we can consciously focus on controlling our breath. This gives us the complete freedom to change how calm we feel at any given time. Next time you are feeling stressed, pay attention to your breathing. Take notice of what happens when you start to breath deeper. Next notice if you feel calmer or more relaxed. It really is that simple.
The next time you may be feeling overwhelmed or stressed, give one of these 2 techniques a try to reduce your heart rate and calm your mind.
- Take a big inhale through the nose, slowly filling the lungs. Hold for a count of 3
- Open mouth exhale, just as slowly as the inhale
- As you exhale, soften the jaw, the forehead and shoulders
- Repeat until you feel calm
- Audible Exhale out the mouth (think exhale with sound) emptying the lungs
- At end of exhale close the lips and inhale deeply through the nose for a count of 5 filling the the lungs and chest.
- Hold the breath in your lungs and chest for a count of 7
- Exhale completely through the mouth for a count of 7
- Repeat cycle 4 times or until you feel relaxed
Challenge yourself to take longer breaths cycles each time you practice. Now while there are several breathing exercises that you can choose from these two are the ones that work for me the best. I encourage you to try out a few different techniques and see which works the best for you.
Taking just a few minutes each day to practice deep breathing can help reduce stress, anxiety and provides you another tool in your self-care toolkit.