Breathing exercises for stress management and relaxation
A variety of deep breathing exercises can help with managing stress and anxiety. While deep breathing exercises direct a message to your brain to ease and relax. The brain then sends this message to your body.
It’s important to be conscious of breathing during stressful and anxious times. When you are anxious, heart rate increases, breathing gets fast, and blood pressure goes high and chest breathing takes over.
Most of the time people aren’t really mindful of the way they’re breathing. There are two types of breathing patterns. One is abdominal and the other is diaphragmatic breathing.
Difference between Abdominal and chest breathing
This type of breathing is a type of deep breathing, including breathing that activates the diaphragm, allowing the lungs to expand and create negative pressure that pushes air through the nose and mouth, filling the lungs with air.
This is how newborns breathe normally. You may also use this breathing pattern when you are in a restful sleep phase.
This type of breathing originates from the chest and involves short, rapid breaths. When you are anxious, you may not realize that you are breathing this way.
The easiest way to determine your breathing pattern is to place one hand on your upper abdomen near your waist and the other in the middle of your chest. As you inhale, notice which hand is higher. If you are breathing correctly, your abdomen should expand and contract with each breath (and the hand on it should rise higher).
It is a simple breathing technique that helps with slow and deliberate deep breathing. This technique has been found to benefit people with anxiety related to lung diseases such as emphysema and COPD.
- Sit in a comfortable position. Keep your neck and shoulders relaxed.
2. Keeping your mouth closed, inhale slowly through your nose for two seconds.
3. Exhale through your mouth for four seconds, curving your mouth as if you were giving a kiss.
4. Keep your breathing slow and steady as you exhale.
Abdominal breathing exercise
Abdominal breathing is very easy and comfortable. Try this basic exercise every time you need to relax or relieve stress.
1. Sit in a comfortable position.
2. Place one hand on your stomach just below your ribs and the other on your chest.
3. Take a deep breath through your nose, letting your belly push your hand out. Your chest should not move.
4. Exhale through your lips as if you are whistling. Feel your hand go into your stomach and use it to expel all the air.
5. Repeat this breath 3 to 10 times. Take your time with each breath.
Alternate nasal breathing exercise
Alternate nasal breathing involves blocking one nostril at a time while inhaling through the other, alternating between the two nostrils in a regular pattern.
1. Place your right hand by bending the index and middle fingers in the palm of your hand, leaving the thumb, ring, and little fingers extended. This is called Vishnu mudra in yoga.
2. Close your eyes or look down gently. Begin to inhale and exhale.
3. Close the right nostril with your thumb.
4. Inhale through the left nostril.
5. Press the left nostril with the ring finger and breath from the right nostril.
At one time, one nostril is open and the other is closed, that’s why it’s called Alternate Breathing.