It's no secret that stress is one of the biggest enemies to our health and well-being. One of the best ways to combat stress and bring on feelings of relaxation is to practice effective breathing exercises. Below are 4 tried-and-true breathing exercises that will help you de-stress, whether you're at home or in the office.
1. The Belly Breathing Exercise
This is one of the most basic breathing exercises out there, and it is considered to be a foundational exercise for other breathing techniques. You can perform this exercise sitting in a chair or lying on your back. Place your right hand on your stomach (just below your ribcage), and place your left hand on your chest. Now take a deep breath through your nostrils, and allow your hand to be pushed forward by your stomach as your lungs fill up with air. You will notice that your chest will remain somewhat stationary during this process. Now purse your lips as if you were going to whistle, and slowly breathe out through your mouth. As your stomach begins to move back inwards, apply very gentle pressure to help press out the exhalation. Repeat this exercise two to three times, and you should already feel a greater sense of relaxation begin to emerge.
2. The "4-7-8" Breathing Technique
Assume the same position as you would for the belly breathing exercise, with your right hand on your stomach and your left hand on your chest. Breathe in deeply for four seconds, and then hold your breath for seven seconds. Now slowly exhale, taking eight seconds to get all of the breath out. When you exhale, try not to "blast" the air out, but instead, make your exhalation as smooth and silent as possible. You can repeat this exercise as often as you see fit in order to bring on feelings of calm and relaxation.
3. The "Bellows Breath" Exercise
This is a more active breathing exercise that has been adopted from various breathing techniques found in yoga. You might even crack yourself up with this one because it's going to require quite a bit of rapid inhaling and exhaling. The important thing to remember about this exercise is that it is to be done through the nose only, so make sure that you're keeping your mouth closed the whole time! To perform the exercise, rapidly inhale and exhale through your nose with very short breaths, much like the way dogs do when they're sniffing around looking for something. Try to perform three rapid in-and-out breath cycles within one second, and then rest for a few seconds before repeating the exercise. Your goal is to extend
4. The Morning Breathing Exercise
This exercise is a great way to increase your alertness and work out some of that muscle stiffness first thing in the morning. Start out in a standing position, and then bend forward slowly, allowing your arms to dangle down and your knees to bend slightly as well. Breathe in deeply as you lower your body down, and then slowly roll your body back up to the standing position, holding your breath until you're standing fully upright again. Now exhale slowly from this standing position. Repeat as many times as you need to in order to help wake your body up on those groggy mornings.
While some stress in life is inevitable, you don't have to be overwhelmed by it. Keep the above breathing exercises in mind to help lower your stress levels and bring about a greater sense of well-being.