Let’s talk deep breathing. Deep breathing is something so simple and so effective, yet something that most of us forget to do on the reg. Instead of taking those deep breaths when we need to the most, we tend to hold our breath and tense during times of stress (hello stiff necks and tight muscles.) Getting stressed out triggers many of us to completely tense up. But if we become mindful of how we are holding our body, and how we are breathing when stress strikes in our day to day life, we can make some subtle, but super effective changes.
So, if you want in on the secret to reducing your stress with just a few simple breathing exercises, read on. And, let’s face it, we could all use some help cutting some of the daily stress out of our life.
The Benefits of Deep Breathing Exercises We Can’t Ignore
Deep breathing when it comes to reducing stress levels has been shown to hold many impressive benefits. Not only will it help you feel better, more focused, and less anxious, but reducing your stress in general, will support overall health.
Here are the benefits of deep breathing we cannot afford to ignore.
Deep Breathing Sends the Right Message
- When you breathe deeply, it sends the message we all need more of; it tells us to calm down and relax! Once the brain gets this message, it sends it to your body to help calm that racing heart rate, control rapid breathing, and decrease that near boiling over blood pressure during periods of stress. Take a few deep breaths to get the right message sent to your body, and to literally tell yourself to calm the heck down. Remember that nothing productive gets done when you are frazzled and frantic, so take the time to just breathe!
Deep Breathing will Bring Mindfulness to Your Body
- Do you hold all of your tension in your back and neck, and often suffer from tension headaches during times of stress? Yes, us too, girl. Stress can really create some serious tension in the body. The good news is that deep breathing can help, and it won’t cost you a thing. By breathing deeply when you are stressed, you can try to breathe into that tension, and be very mindful of how it feels when those muscles relax. Take some time to sit and just be mindful when you feel like your stress is spiraling. It can make such a huge difference in your body.
Lower Blood Pressure
- Stress can spike blood pressure, and some people are more prone to this than others. You may even feel your blood pressure rising, and when you feel it coming on, it’s time to stop everything you are doing and practice some breathing exercises. A study found that taking just six deep breaths in 30 seconds was able to reduce systolic blood pressure by 3-4 units! That’s pretty impressive, and another good reason to breathe into that stress instead of tensing up and holding your breath.
5 Different Breathing Exercises to Get You Through a Stressful Day
Ready for an instant stress relief? Let’s jump right in and look at five breathing exercises you can use to create some zen in your life.
#1 Abdominal Breathing Exercise
A super simple way to instantly feel less stressed is to practice abdominal breathing. To get started, breathe in deeply through your nose allowing your stomach to expand, being mindful to keep your shoulders pulled back. Now, slowly exhale through your mouth. Keep doing this breathing exercise until you feel less tense and anxious and ready to continue to pick up where you left off in your day.
#2 Calm Breathing
Calm breathing is a similar breathing exercise to abdominal breathing. Except, when you breathe in, you will want to hold your breath for 1-2 seconds before letting it all out. When you let the air out, do so slowly over about 4 seconds for best results. Do this for 6-8 cycles or until you feel more relaxed.
#3 Progressive Muscle Relaxation
If you have a few minutes to spare, maybe at the end of the day when you need to unwind, try this deep breathing exercise that involves progressively relaxing your muscles. To start, sit in a comfortable position, and take some slow deep breaths. Start at your feet, and squeeze one foot at a time as tight as you can. Hold for 10 seconds, and then release and completely relax your foot. Repeat on the other side, and continue working your way up your body. This is a great way to bring mindfulness to your tension and then learning to relax. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel after you have completely relaxed and released all the tension in your body.
#4 Body Scan Breathing Exercise
Doing a total body scan is the perfect way to let go of built up tension in the body. This breathing exercise is very similar to the progressive muscle relaxation technique. However, instead of tensing and then releasing, you are noting whether or not there is tension in each area of your body. If there is, imagine breathing into that tension and then notice how that area of your body feels. For many of us, we tend to feel tension in our back, shoulders, neck, and even jaw muscles.
#5 Mindfulness Meditation
If you feel you need a little guidance, there are thousands of mindful breathing exercise videos you can follow online. Try plugging in your headphones and shutting everything else out as you go through a guided mindful meditation to help combat stress.
So there you have it, five of some of the easiest breathing exercises that you can keep in your back pocket for when you need some instant calm. Try bringing more zen into your life by being more mindful of how you breathe, and remember, that something as simple as breathing can take some practice, especially if you are used to holding your breath when stressed. So, give yourself some grace, practice deep breathing daily, and finally feel more relaxed and better able to power through even the most stressful days.