Stress is a normal mind-body response that all of us experience to some degree. The key to managing your stress is having the ability to turn it on & off like a tap.
For most of us stress manifests on a daily basis through routine activities such as, running late for work, relationship issues, family obligations, meeting deadlines & demands. Whilst you cant eliminate all stress from you life, you can control your responses to it.
The rhythm & depth of your breath has a direct effect on your oxygen levels heart rate, blood pressure & mental state, Therefore breathing exercises can be a powerful way to help you manage your stress levels.
Here are a few to try:
Box Breathing: Simple yet effective technique you can do anywhere at anytime.
- Inhale through your nose for four counts. Expand your belly & ribs to ensure a full breath. Hold for 4 counts
- Exhale through your mouth for 4 counts, emptying your lungs & allowing your belly & ribs to return to their normal position. Hold for 4 counts
- Repeat 3 more times
Diaphragmatic Breathing: Reduces your body's 'fight or flight' response.
- Lie on your back on a flat surface with your knees bent
- Put one hand on your upper chest & one below your rib cage, so you can feel your diaphragm move as your breathe
- Slowly inhale through your nose & out through your mouth, feeling your stomach move against your hand.
4-7-8 Breathing: Inhale for 4, hold for 7, exhale for 8.
- Sit with your back straight & place the tip of your tongue behind your upper front teeth
- Exhale through your mouth, making a whoosh sound
- Close your mouth & inhale through your nose, for 4 counts
- Hold your breath for 7 counts
- Open your mouth & exhale through it, making a whoosh sound for 8 counts
- Repeat 3 more times
While breathing is typically performed without awareness or conscious thought, it is closely connected to our experience of & response to stress.
Research shows that mindful breathing is one of the most effective tools you can have in your toolbox to reduce stress & anxiety. Breathing exercises don't have to take a lot of time out of your day. You can do them in the moment as your starting to feel overwhelmed, or better yet start incorporating them into your day. Start with 5 minutes, or even 2 minutes at the beginning of your day & from there incorporate your breathing exercises throughout your daily routine.
The more you practice breathing exercises, the easier using the technique will be when stress arises. Incorporating breathing exercises into your daily routine can improve your reactions to stress.
Breath in calm, breathe out stress. Remember during times of stress, don't forget one of the most effective stress management tools is literally right at the tip of your tongue - whenever you need it