6 Breathing Exercises To Try When You Feel Stressed

6 Breathing Exercises To Try When You Feel Stressed

Breathing is something that you do without thinking about it, making it an automatic bodily function. If you are in tune with your body, you know that your breathing rate elevates in times of stress. This is a natural part of the body’s fight-or-flight response, just as slower breathing occurs during the rest-and-digest state. 

The good news is that you have the power to change your own breathing pattern. According to scientific studies, controlling your breath can help you manage stress and stress-related health conditions. Yoga, tai chi, and certain forms of meditation use breath control to promote relaxation and mind-body awareness. Deliberately changing your breathing pattern can help you prevent hyperventilation. 

A stressed person will usually breathe in an anxious way, e.g. shallow breaths that do not engage the diaphragm. That style of breathing disrupts the natural balance of gases in the body. Shallow breathing can prolong anxiety, whereas controlled breathing can help reduce stress hormones, lower blood pressure, and balance oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the blood. Continue reading to learn about breathing exercises that can help reduce stress.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Also known as belly breathing, diaphragmatic breathing can help you use the diaphragm properly. In addition to helping you manage stress, it may help you ease constipation, reduce blood pressure, and relieve headaches. Practice diaphragmatic breathing for five to 10 minutes, three to four times per day for best results. 

Lie flat on your back with your knees slightly bent. Rest your head on a pillow and consider placing a pillow or bolster under your knees for support. Place one hand on your upper chest and one just b below your rib cage so you can feel the diaphragm move. Inhale through your nose and feel your stomach press into your hand. Keep the other hand on your upper chest still and hold for a second. Exhale through pursed lips, tightening your abdominal muscles to expel all of the air. 

Lion’s Breath

This is an energizing breathing practice that is quite common in yoga sessions. In addition to reducing stress, it may help relieve tension in the jaw and facial muscles. To do this breathing technique, sit up straight in a cross-legged position. Press your palms against your knees and spread your fingers apart. Inhale deeply through your nose and open your eyes wide. Simultaneously, open your mouth as wide as you can and stick out your tongue, bringing the tip toward your chin. Exhale with a longe “haaa” sound and direct your gaze toward the front of your nose. Do this breath about two to three times. 

Equal Breathing

Equal breathing is the practice of focusing on matching the length of your inhale to the length of your exhale. Bye making your breath smooth and qual, you can bring about balance. According to research, older adults with high blood pressure who practiced this technique increased oxygen supply to the brain and lungs. Make sure to find a breath length that isn’t too difficult, for example, somewhere between three to five seconds. 

Sit down in a comfortable position and find your center. Breathe in through your nose, counting the duration of your inhale. Exhale for the same amount of seconds as your inhale. If you want, you can add a slight pause between your inhale and exhale if you feel comfortable. Continue practicing this technique for at least five minutes. 

Deep Breathing

Deep breathing works relieve shortness of breath because it helps prevent air from getting trapped in your lungs. It also helps you breathe in fresher air and may contribute to feelings of deeper relaxation. While sitting or standing, draw your elbows back to allow your chest to expand. Take a deep breath in through your nose and retain this breath for five seconds. Slowly release the breath through your nose. Continue with this breathing pattern until you feel more centered and relaxed.

Pursed Lip Breathing

This is a simple breathing exercise that can help you slow down your breathing because it requires you to apply effort with each breath. You can engage in pursed lip breathing at any time, but it may be most useful during activities such as bending, lifting, or climbing stairs. Ideally, practice this breathing exercise four to five times per day when you begin to correctly learn how to do it.

Sit down on the edge of a chair and keep your back straight. Relax your neck and shoulders and keep your gaze forward. Keep your mouth closed as you inhale slowly through your nose for two seconds. Purse your lips and exhale slowly, blowing air through your pursed lips for four seconds. Continue alternating until you complete about 10 cycles. 

Resonant Breathing 

Resonant, or coherent, breathing involves breathing at a rate of five full breaths per minutes. How do you achieve this rate? You inhale and exhale for a count of five, respectively. By breathing this way, you can maximize your heart rate variability (HRV), promote stress reduction, and reduce symptoms of depression. To do this, sit down in a comfortable position. Inhale for a count of five and then exhale for a count of five. Continue this breathing pattern for a few minutes. 

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