Maybe your heart is racing or you feel uneasy. You may not be sleeping well or might feel rundown all the time. Sound eerily familiar? It is time to reduce stress. Stress has become a serious issue these days. With many people now working from home, there is less of a work/life balance than ever before. There aren’t as many places to escape and let loose. And connecting with others has become much more difficult. Stress happens but it doesn’t need to take over your life. You deserve to feel calm and peaceful. Here are some breathing techniques to add to your day. Each one can help to reduce stress and bring emotional balance to your life.
How Breathing Can Reduce Stress
When you feel stressed and overwhelmed, everything seems like too much. Often, your mind darts from one thought to another to another…and each thought becomes more stress inducing than the last. For instance, if you are stressed about work, you may be thinking about a comment made by your boss. Then you might think that your boss isn’t happy with your work, you do nothing right, and you will probably be fired in the not-so-distant-future. Even when our thoughts aren’t true (and are based in fear and worry instead of in reality), they can be extremely stressful. The solution? Start recognizing the signs and reduce stress with tried and true breathing techniques. These techniques can help realign your thoughts and slow down your racing heart.
The key is to take note of those stressful moments and make the decision to embrace calm instead. Easier said than done, right? The more you begin to recognize the signs, symptoms, and mental thought patterns linked to stress…. the easier it will be to remember that cleansing breathing. You can use these techniques during stressful moments or incorporate them into your everyday routine for more peace of mind.
Breathing Technique #1: Counting from 1 to 5
It is always best to keep it simple. When you are feeling the stresses and strains of everyday life, the last thing you want to worry about it something overly complicated. That’s why this first breathing technique is not only effective, but easy to remember. Just count from 1 to 5.
Sit, stand, or lie down in a place that you will not be disturbed for a few minutes. Take a few deep breaths to begin and just focus on your breathing. Reduce stress by breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. Once you feel a little more comfortable, start counting. Breathe in while counting 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and then breathe out while counting 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Don’t pause or hold your breath at any point. Just breathe in while counting from 1 to 5 and breathe out while counting from 1 to 5. Try this technique for two minutes to start. Then take a moment and assess how you’re feeling.
Breathing Technique #2: Choose a Focus Word
Different techniques work for different people. While counting may reduce stress for one person…it may not be the best fit for another. So, don’t be afraid to try various techniques until you find something that works for you. If counting from 1 to 5 didn’t quite do the trick, a focus word may be better suited to your needs. Choose a stress reducing word. For instance: calm, peace, tranquility, or ease. Then choose a word to represent whatever you are ready to let go of. For instance: stress, worry, fear, or anxiety.
Sit, stand, or lie down in a place where you will be not disturbed. As you start to breathe in, think: “I breathe in (calming focus word).” As you breathe out, think: “I breathe out (second focus word).” That could look something like, “I breathe in calm. I breathe out stress.” Breathe in through your nose while thinking about your calming focus word. Then breathe out through your mouth while thinking about what you wish to release. This can be a wonderful way to feel grounded, balanced, and add intention to your day.
Breathing Technique #3: Alternate Nostril Breathing
Another breathing technique to reduce stress is called alternative nostril breathing. This is just as described! It involves breathing through one nostril and exhaling through the other. Though it might sound a little more complex than the 1 to 5 method or the focus word method…it is actually fairly easy to do. Plus, adding in the use of your hands makes this particular technique even more grounding. It can also make you feel more connected to your body.
Sit or stand in a comfortable position. Place your thumb on the right nostril and your index finger on the left nostril. Inhale through the left nostril by lifting up your index finger. When you are ready to exhale, place your index finger back down and lift up your thumb on the right nostril. Repeat this process for two to five minutes and reassess your stress level. Do you feel more rooted and present in your body? Do you feel less stressed? Once you refocus your mind and make breathwork a priority…those worries and anxieties will start to fade.
Other Techniques to Reduce Stress
There is no right or wrong way to experience calm. Sometimes, it takes a bit of trial and error to find techniques that work for you. If the three above aren’t the right fit…that’s okay! You can also try a guided meditation with breathwork (sometimes it is easier to tap into that sense of calm when a voice is leading you through the breath counts) or the 4-7-8 breathing technique. The latter involves breathing in for 4 seconds, holding your breath for 7 seconds, and slowly releasing the breath for 8 seconds. This particular breathing technique is thought to reduce stress and anxiety and promote a better night of rest.
Don’t live your life overwhelmed and unhappy. Find ways to reduce stress instead. These breathing techniques may sound simple but they can make a noticeable difference in the way you feel in a stressful moment – and the way you react to stressful situations in the future.