Stress. We’ve all felt it. But there is something we all have that can help alleviate it, just breathe.
Although you can’t stop stressors from occurring in your life, there are breathing exercises that can manage your body’s stress response. Turns out all you need are a pair of healthy lungs!
When you feel stressed the body is flooded with the stress hormones that make you breathe faster, elevate your heart rate, cause muscle tension and increase your blood pressure. This bodily response was necessary to our ancient ancestors when they were facing lions and wild bears.
Fortunately, human society has drastically changed since this time. Most of us, I hope, don’t have to worry about being devoured by wild beasts. Our bodies, however, have not changed. The stress you feel in a traffic jam is the same response that our ancestors felt when running from a mountain lion. These life-or-death physical responses to issues that don’t require fighting or fleeing take on a toll on the body.
These simple breathing exercises can be a powerful tool to help ease stress and anxiety.
If you are taking in short, shallow breaths it can make you feel anxious and drain your energy. The Deep Breathing exercise will help you learn to take bigger more controlled breaths.
With this breathing technique, you’ll breathe in the same amount of time that you breathe out. The longer you practice this technique the longer you’re able to breathe in and out.
As you begin to feel comfortable with counting to 5 with this breathing technique, slowly increase the amount of time that you breathe in and out. You can work your way up to breaths that last 10seconds.
This technique will help you relax both physically and mentally. Progressive muscle relaxation involves you tensing muscle groups as you breathe and releasing as breath out.
This breathing technique is supposed to bring balance and unite the right and left side of the brain and give you focus and energy.
This breathing exercise helps to shake off stale energy and wake up the brain.
If you need to blow off some steam, try this breathing technique. Lions Breath is often practiced first thing in the morning to warm you up and increase your energy. This one makes you look crazy but its totally worth it!
This breathing technique will have you focus on your happy place. Focus on pleasant, positive images to replace negative thoughts. Psychologist Dr. Ellen Langer explains that while it’s just one means of achieving mindfulness, “Guided visualization helps puts you in the place you want to be, rather than letting your mind go to the internal dialogue that is stressful.”
You can practice guided visualization with any of the breathing techniques above, or as a standalone. Just make sure that you are comfortable and taking deep breaths.