A breathing exercise for stress reduction
- Find a position that is comfortable to you (sitting, lying, etc) in a space that is quiet and free of distractions (for a few minutes at least).
- Start to let your body settle into that position and become heavy on the chair you sit in, or bed you lay in, or wherever you find yourself at the moment.
- Let go of any tension you’re holding in your body or face. Without changing your breath just start to pay attention to it.
- After a few breaths, start to let your breath get deeper into your chest and belly.
- You may want to put a hand on your chest and one on your belly so you can feel where your breath is going.
- If your hand on your belly is not feeling any movement, deepen your breath into the belly until you feel some movement there.
- For the next few breaths, start to lengthen each inhale and exhale slightly to slow the breath down.
- Now we start a 5-10 breath, meaning you inhale for a count of 5 and exhale for a count of 10. If this feels like too much then try a 4 count inhale and 8 count exhale – the key is that the exhale is twice as long as the inhale. This switches our brain and body out of a stress state and into a relaxed state.
- Keep doing your 5-10 or 4-8 breath for several minutes. I recommend at least 5 to 10 min, but you can do this for shorter lengths during the day to reduce stress when you notice it rising. You can also do it for much longer if you would like an even more peaceful and relaxing result.
The benefits of a 5-10 breathing exercise are many. As I mentioned, it moves your nervous system out of the stress cycle and into a more restful and calm state. This has the effect of reducing mental stress, anxiety, physical pain and muscle tension – things many of us are experiencing a lot of recently. Breath work also increases your oxygen levels, improves posture, massages your internal organs and can even help to improve circulation and digestion.
Stress management is essential to our overall health and wellbeing. Breath work is an excellent tool that can have incredible benefits on your mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing. I encourage you to carve out time in your schedule to take a few deep breaths, and hope it brings you a few moments of calm.
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