'Just breathe.' It's common advice we get when we are angry or anxious. It works - if you know how to breathe.
Our bodies become tense and rigid when we are stressed. We withdraw into ourselves to avoid pain or injury. Breathing helps control the nervous system and relax the body and relieve pain and anxiety.
The way you breathe when you’re anxious usually doesn't help you stay calm. It could be argued that it is the way you breath that keeps you feeling stressed and anxious. Change your breathing pattern and you'll stop feeling stressed.
Here are 8 Breathing Techniques to Help You Reduce Stress Instantly.
1. Equal Breathing (Sama Vritti).
The focus of this breathing technique is to calm the nervous system and reduce anxiety.
How to relieve stress by using the 'Equal Breathing' technique.
- When you feel stressed, inhale through your nose to the count of four.
- Then exhale through the nose to the count of four.
- Always keep in mind your goal to calm yourself and to rid yourself of tension.
This breathing technique is also useful at night if you struggle to fall asleep.
2. Abdominal Breathing Technique.
By reducing your heart rate and blood pressure, you'll notice change very quickly - and you can do that with this breathing technique.
How to relieve stress by using the 'Abdominal Breathing' technique.
- Place one hand on your chest and one hand on your abdomen.
- Take a deep breath through your nose.
- As you do this, focus on inflating your diaphragm with air instead of your chest, and stretch out your lungs with the air that you take in.
- Set a target of six to 10 deep, slow breaths every minute.
Stick to it for as long as possible for continuous positive effects on your heart rate and blood pressure. Abdominal breathing is a great tool to use before stressful events like exams or in other situations that cause anxiety.
3. Progressive Relaxation.
This breathing technique puts focus on the muscle groups
How to relieve stress by using the 'Progressive Relaxation' technique.
- Close your eyes and concentrate on muscle groups, starting at your toes and moving up through all the muscles in your body until you reach your head.
- Your objective is to tense your muscles for a few seconds each and then relax them.
- As you tense your muscles, breathe in through your nose, hold your breath for five seconds and then exhale through your mouth, relaxing your muscles in the process.
- Move on to the next muscle group higher up.
You can practice progressive relaxation wherever you are - in the car (preferably not if you're driving), at your desk, or at home.
4. Ocean Breathing (Ujjayi).
The sound that you use to regulate and control your breaths is similar to that of the ocean. Hence the name.
How to relieve stress by using the 'Ocean Breath' technique.
- Sit with your back upright.
- Close your eyes and breathe deeply in and out through your nose.
- As you inhale and exhale, constrict the muscles in your throat to produce a kind of whooshing sound.
- When you breathe in this manner, the air should pass smoothly through your throat and your throat should feel as natural as possible.
- Balance the power of each breath as you inhale and exhale. Balance the sounds of your breaths.
Ujjayi balances the body, relieving it of tension and anxiety.
5. Left Nostril Breathing.
Here's a breathing technique that soothes the nervous system and balances emotions.
How to relieve stress by using the 'Left Nostril Breathing' technique.
- Cover your right nostril to restrict the flow of air.
- Breathe naturally through the left nostril. Make sure that air flows without restriction through your left nostril.
- Inhale and exhale slowly for one minute. You'll feel present and at peace.
6. The Sedona Method.
The Sedona method helps you to let go of stress and worries. It's a method that gives you the power to address issues that you need to be free of and to then 'release' them.
How to relieve stress by using the 'Sedona Method' technique.
- Think of an issue that is causing anxiety.
- Welcome it. Allow it be present as you fully come to terms with how it affects you and with how it makes you feel. 3. Next, take a deep breath and ask yourself these three questions:
- Do I want to let go of the emotions bubbling up from this issue?
- Can I let the emotions around this issue go?
- When do I want to let these emotions go?
Answer as truthfully as possible. Questions 1 and 2 should be simple yes or no answers. Don't allow other thoughts interfere, such as justifying holding on to the feeling.
When the answer to the third question is 'Now', release your breath and feel the tension melting.
If your answers to questions 1 and 2 are "no," that's okay. Ask the questions again until you feel ready to let go.
Breath the rigth way - be guided with our meditation audio that will help heal your mind and body.
Remember to breathe from your abdomen and not from your chest. Be aware of the causes of your stress, but pay attention to the power breathing can have to calm your mind, relieve yourself of tension and to open the flow of peace and positive energy as you practice these techniques.