Breathing techniques are a simple, but effective way to control stress and promote a healthy mood. When you experience stress, your breathing is one of the first things that is affected. According to the Mayo Clinic, breathing exercises are especially beneficial for the body because they send a message to your brain to enter into a state of calmness, reducing your blood pressure, stress levels and heart rate. Stress is a large part of everyone’s life, but there are easy breathing techniques you can perform, to promote a state of relaxation.
The first step to doing deep-breathing exercises is to learn how to do abdominal breathing. Also called belly breathing, this simple and effective method helps you reestablish a normal breathing pattern during stressful situations.
- To begin, sit or lie down on a comfortable surface.
- Place one hand on the center of your stomach just below your rib cage, and let your other hand rest on your chest.
- As you take a deep breath in through your nose, concentrate on how the hand on your belly goes in.
- Exhale through your mouth to gently push your hand back out.
Take your time and concentrate on how your breathing affects the placement of your hand. After you get used to belly breathing, you can practice holding the breath while your hand rests on your stomach. Hold for 5 seconds, then release. This is a great exercise that you can do just about anywhere.
Mantra breathing is a specific kind of breathing technique that incorporates breathing, meditation and biofeedback. To begin, find a comfortable, quiet place to sit. You can also light a candle or sit on a yoga mat if you find it helps you relax. A 5, 15 or 30 minute break is all that is needed to practice this exercise for deep relaxation. Once comfortable, close your eyes and let go of all external distractions while focusing on your inner self. As you take a deep breath, say, “I am.” As you exhale, say, “Relaxed.” Continue to take deep breaths in and out while repeating this mantra. As you relax, you may feel the need to personalize your mantra, adding your own words to meditate on. This is a breathing exercise best used at home or anywhere you can find time alone in a quiet place. It is also a great exercise to combine with soothing aromatherapy for increased relaxation.
Muscle Relaxation Breathing
Muscle relaxation exercises are another great way to reduce stress, calm your mind and relax your muscles. This technique is especially helpful for those who experience physical symptoms of stress, such as tight muscles, muscle spasms, tension headaches and jaw pain. To begin, find a quiet place to practice. You can light candles or add anything that helps you relax. This exercise involves tightening each specific muscle group, one at a time, and then gently letting the muscles relax. Start by clenching your hands as you breathe in deeply. Then, as you exhale, whisper the word, “Calm” or “Relax.” Make sure you include your shoulders, neck and stomach muscles in the exercise. Continue until you reach your toes.
These easy breathing techniques can be used at home, in a private office or while traveling. They are also helpful just before bed when you need to relax for a good night’s sleep. However, if you have breathing difficulties or pain while performing these breathing exercises, see your doctor for an examination.