Stress can make life quite uncomfortable for us, especially those in highly demanding jobs. However, it’s not limited to your occupation; even being a parent can be stressful. Students also feel stressed due to the demands of the school curriculum. In short, stress occurs when the task is more than you can handle. You’ll feel exhausted and probably get sick if you don’t treat yourself.
Some people use medications to reduce their stress. However, others may try cold showers or simply relaxing/sleeping to reduce stress. The truth is those strategies can be effective to an extent, but another technique is overlooked, which is known as breathing exercises.
Why You Need To Try Breathing Exercises?
Breathing exercises are different from the usual way you breathe. Although you still have to inhale and exhale, there are several ways to do it if you want to reduce stress. Mostly, it involves slowly inhaling deeply and exhaling slowly. The reason this exercise is relevant is because our breathing determines if we are stressed or relaxed.
For instance, if you’re reading a book just for fun, you’ll notice that your breathing will be normal, but it will change when you’re reading too late for an important exam. Moreover, when sleeping, your breathing can be normal but suddenly change due to a nightmare. Furthermore, while a comedy movie can relax your mind, a horror movie can increase your heartbeat due to the suspense and terror displayed.
People who also play certain sports like football have to run around often and get their heartbeat increasing fast. The good news is with the proper breathing technique, they can still keep playing the match. It can also help you stay focused and remove all distractions, including suppressing the devastating effect of bad news. Additionally, it can help you to manage your anger issues when provoked or when things don’t go your way. So, what breathing exercises are available?
Due to the negative effect of stress on individuals, some breathing exercises were designed to ease stress. While they are cheap, unlike medications, and you can try them at home, your environment must be calm, without noise or distraction, to achieve peace and clear your mind. You can also use a mat with a soft surface to relax and ease the process. The following are various types of breathing exercises to relieve stress.
Types of Breathing Exercises
- Diaphragmatic Breathing (Deep Breathing): Usually, when we breathe, our chest enlarges and relaxes, but in this case, the stomach must go up and down. You can only exhale when you realize oxygen has filled the belly. This breathing is possible when you inhale; it engages the diaphragm, a large muscle under the lungs, to attain deep breathing. You can effectively try this exercise by lying on your back, then gently bending your knee and putting your hand on your stomach to feel your stomach breathing. Also, try using a pillow to support your head.
- Pursed Lip Breathing If you have asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), this breathing exercise is for you. It can be done by sitting straight, slowly inhaling with your nose, and gradually exhaling with your mouth as if you want to blow out a candle. It helps to manage shortness of breath after a strenuous activity or incident.
- 4-7-8 Breathing (Relaxing Breath): In this kind of breathing exercise, you have to hold your breath in between after inhaling and exhaling. It starts by counting from 1 to 4 when you slowly inhale; then, you hold your breath for 7 seconds before exhaling with your mouth for the remaining 8 seconds. It helps the body to release tension and ease the nervous system, thereby reducing stress and anxiety.
- Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhana): When you do this breathing technique, your body will feel energy flow. First, block one part of your nostrils (your left or right nostril) and inhale with the free nostril, then switch sides and block the free nostril so that air can pass through the other nostril. It gives mental clarity and emotional stability and reduces stress.
Breathing exercises are one the most effective methods to relieve stress, among others. It mainly involves inhaling slowly and exhaling gradually through various practices like diaphragm breathing, pursed lip breathing, 4-7-8 breathing, etc. Practice these techniques to clear your mind and achieve tranquility.