When you’re feeling stressed and anxious, have you ever stopped to take note of your breathing? It tends to be shallow and rapid. In contrast, have you realised how your breathing differs when you’re relaxed? It’s slower and deeper. Practising breathing techniques is an effective way to help you relax in stressful situations – they work by making your body feel like it typically does when you are already in a relaxed state. When you take deep breaths, your brain receives a message to calm down and relax. This message is then sent to your body and all of those things that increase when you are stressed or anxious, such as heart rate, breathing and blood pressure, all decrease.
You can practice breathing techniques anywhere and they’re really easy. Try and do them around once or twice a day to get the most benefits. There are a few different ones you can try, so test them all out and see which you prefer!
- Make sure you’re comfortable, either sitting or lying down.
- Place one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest
- Breathe deeply through your nose and feel your stomach pushing your hand out. Your chest should not be moving.
- Breathe out through your mouth through pursed lips. Notice your stomach goes in.
- Repeat three to 10 times
This breathing technique is slightly harder than belly breathing so make sure you’ve got the hang of the above before trying it.
- Get comfortable sitting or lying down.
- Start by placing one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest again.
- Take a deep, slow breath and count to four in your head as you breathe in.
- Hold your breath and count to seven in your head.
- Breathe out and silently count to eight, aiming to expel all the air from your lungs in this time.
- Repeat three to seven times or until you feel more relaxed.
For the first few times you try this, it’s easier to lie down on your back and bend your knees. The idea of roll breathing is to help you develop the full use of your lungs whilst focusing on the rhythm of your breath. You can get a bit lightheaded when trying it for the first few times – if you find yourself breathing too quickly or feeling dizzy, simply slow down your breathing and remember to get up slowly!
- Place your left hand on your stomach, your right hand on your chest and take note of how then move with each breath.
- Fill your lower lungs by breathing in so that your left hand on your stomach rises whilst inhaling, and your right hand on the chest stays still. Remember to breathe in with the nose, and out with the mouth.
- Do this eight to 10 times.
- Once you’ve done this, inhale first into your lower lungs as you did in the first step, then continue to inhale into your upper chest.
- Do this slowly and regularly. When you do this, you’ll notice your right hand rising and your left falling slightly.
- Exhale slowly through your mouth, and make a slight whooping noise. Notice your left hand will fall first and then followed by the right. You should feel the tension leaving you.
- Do this for around three to five minutes. You should feel your stomach and chest rising and falling, almost like rolling waves.
MODIFIED LION’S BREATH
- Make sure you’re sitting comfortably.
- Take a deep breath in through your nose and fill your stomach up with air.
- When your lungs are full, open your mouth as wide as you can and breathe out with a ‘HA’ sound.
- Repeat this several times.
Meditation is also a great way of managing stress. Check out our post on some top meditation techniques HERE