We often find ourselves over-worked, under-slept and in general, we live stressful lives. These states of stress or anxiety invoke the fight or flight mode which can be overwhelming for our mind and body. In today’s world, we are given medication to deal with the result of our lifestyles, and this is often not the best solution, but it’s usually easier to take a pill than to take control of oneself. It is good to know, however, that we can use these simple breathing techniques to relieve stress and anxiety in our lives.
Take a Breath
Negativity affects you anywhere, from the comfort of your bed, at your desk, in traffic or at work. When this occurs, try these simple breathing techniques to relieve stress and anxiety to help calm you down and to carry on doing what needs to be done to get through your day. Many experts encourage using the breath as a means of increasing awareness and mindfulness and relieving stress and anxiety. Controlled breathing isn’t quite as easy as it sounds, however, all we need is a pair of healthy lungs and about 10 minutes a day.
Start by breathing normally through the nose, which adds a natural resistance to the breath. Inhale for a count of four, then exhale for some four, repeating for as long as you feel comfortable. This technique works anytime but is particularly useful before bedtime. As you improve your ability, increase the count to 8. Controlled breathing takes your mind off all those thoughts racing through your mind, and this exercise calms the nervous system, reduces stress and increases focus.
Place one hand on the chest and the other on the belly, take a deep breath in through the nose, ensuring the diaphragm (not the chest) inflates with enough air to create a stretch in the lungs. Try doing these for 6 to 10 deep breaths. This is an excellent exercise for children to do before exams or any stressful event.
Find a comfortable place to relax, close your eyes and then focus your breathing taking deep breaths while concentrating on each muscle group in your body. Start with your feet, moving on to the calves, thighs, glutes, abdomen. Chest, arms, hands, neck, jaw and eyes. For this exercise, breath in through the nose and out through your mouth.
Alternate Nostril Breathing
Nadi Shodanha or alternate nostril breathing is a powerful technique to settle your mind, body and emotions.
- Sit in a comfortable seat and make sure that your spine is tall and straight and that your heart is open.
- Using your right hand, bring your index finger and middle finger to rest between your eyebrows. The fingers we’ll be using to block the nostrils are the thumb and ring finger.
- Close your eyes and take a deep breath in and out through your nose.
- Use your right thumb to block your right nostril and inhale deeply and slowly through the left nostril.
- At the peak of inhalation, close the left nostril with your ring finger, so both nostrils are held closed and hold your breath for a brief pause.
- Release the left nostril with your ring finger and exhale slowly and steadily through the right nostril.
- Pause briefly at the bottom of the exhale and repeat the cycle from step 4.
- Repeat for around 5 – 10 cycles or for as long as is comfortable.
These breathing techniques relieve stress and anxiety and can assist you in your daily life in dealing with stress, frustration, and other daily setbacks.