Breathing Techniques to Reduce Stress

Citrus tree

The simple and involuntary act of breathing has the potential to unconsciously alter your emotions (and vice versa!). It also regulates our blood pressure, affects memory, and helps us manage our stress and anxiety levels. It is important to practice mindful breathing and focus your attention on your breath, paying attention to the present moment.

Mindful Breathing

Mindful breathing has been shown to be an effective and powerful technique when you find yourself in a stressful situation, and it helps put situations into perspective. Not to mention that it is healthier than other coping mechanisms, such as emotional eating, oversleeping, escapism, or turning to harmful substances.

You can practice mindful breathing while standing, sitting, laying down, or in whatever position you’re comfiest in, so kick back, close your eyes, and live in the moment!

Belly Breathing

This exercise focuses on strengthening the diaphragm muscle - the muscle that contracts and flattens whenever you inhale.

  • Rest your hand lightly on your stomach and relax.

  • Breathe in slowly through your nose, noticing how your stomach rises.

  • Breathe out slowly through your mouth, noticing how your stomach falls.

  • Repeat, trying to get your stomach to rise higher than it did with the last breath, and exhale two to three times longer than your inhale.

  • You can practice belly breathing for about 5 to 10 minutes every day to enhance lung function.

Lion’s Breathing

This exercise focuses on relieving stress - and it might even cause you to laugh. You know what they say - laughter is the best medicine!

  • Deeply inhale through your nose and hold breath for 5 seconds.

  • Deeply exhale through your mouth, while sticking your tongue out as far as you’re able to.

  • Inhale again, and repeat the same exhale. Add a loud sigh this time around. The louder your exhale, the better.

  • Repeat until you feel you’ve fully let go.

These are just a handful of the many breathing techniques out there. Feel free to experiment and share your favorite techniques with me!

Julia NordgrenComment