How to Reduce Stress with Breathing Exercises

March 14, 2021, Publisher: Breath Hub

Stress is an unavoidable part of our lives. With the added worry and fear caused by the pandemic, we have been living in a constant state of anxiety and panic for over a year now.
Breathing does not only mean respiration. It is also a bodily function that helps to govern how we feel. When we are stressed, our breathing and heart rate increases. The sympathetic nervous system kicks in and prepares the body to fight or flight. This is very helpful when we are trying to protect ourselves from a threat. 
This stress response which could be a lifesaver in many cases can also damage our physical and psychological health when we are exposed to it for too long. Thankfully, there are many breathing exercises that can help reduce stress

Managing stress through breathwork

When we are stressed, our breathing becomes faster and shallower. When we are calm, resting or sleeping we take deeper, slower breaths. In other words, how we feel directly influences how we breathe.
But did you know that this is a two-way mechanism? That you can change how you feel by changing the way you breathe

Diaphragmatic breathing or belly breathing for beginners

First, sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Scan your body to see if there is any tension in your body. Give yourself a few minutes to prepare your body and mind. Try to relax and focus on your breath.
Place one hand on your chest and one hand on your stomach. Where is your breath? Is it in your chest or your diaphragm area? If you are breathing into the chest, you may have noticed that it is shallower.  If you can breathe toward your belly, fully engaging the diaphragm, your breath will deepen. In this exercise, make sure to take diaphragmatic breaths. Deep and slow belly breaths will activate your parasympathetic nervous system, allowing you to calm down and relax.
As you take a deep breath through the nose, first expand your abdomen, then carry the breath up to your chest and slowly exhale through the mouth. Pay attention to your breath. The duration of your inhalation and exhalation should be equal. Continue this exercise for 10 minutes or until you feel refreshed. 

4-7-8 breathing technique

Make sure you are comfortable with diaphragmatic breathing before practicing this technique.
First, sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Scan your body to see if there is any tension. Give yourself a few minutes to relax and focus on your breath.
Take a deep breath into the belly through the nose for a count of 4, hold your breath for a count of 7, and exhale slowly through the mouth for a count of 8. Repeat these steps for 4 times. You can practice the 4-7-8 breathing technique to calm your mind before sleep.
You can find hundreds of breathing exercises on Breath Hub and start your breathing practice today. 
Remember, your breath can help you cope with anything.