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Breathing exercises for stress relief

Breathing exercises for stress relief are one of the easiest methods of stress relief available to you, its free, you don’t need any equipment and it can be done anywhere.  They are one of the most useful techniques to learn.

The secret to getting the most benefit is to practice the exercises every day, this will make them second nature to you and you will be able to reach the deep level of relaxation faster as you become better and better at the technique.

Once you learn the techniques it is simple to practice them every day, you don’t need to be lying down,  you could be on the train to work, or sitting in the park at lunch time.. or even at your desk at work. All you need is the time and desire to look after your body.

When you first learn this technique it is best to be at home and be able to lie down. This will make it easier for you to become used to the breathing technique but after that you can do it anywhere.

Combining breathing with meditation is also a useful tool against stress. Learning both of these stress relieving techniques will become second nature to you and will be powerful tools in your everyday fight against the effects of stress.

It is strange to think that we have to learn how to breathe correctly; after all breathing should come naturally to all of us.

However when we are stressed we begin to breath differently, this is our body going into the fight or flight mode i.e. preparing us to flee or to have the energy and stamina to fight.

This is great if we are actually in danger but as a general rule our stress is not caused by life threatening situations.

Stress and breathing

Breathing correctly is important for our general health and also in the reducing the effects of stress.

When we are stressed we tend to breathe from our upper chest whereas normal breathing should take place lower down in our abdomen.

Stress can become so much part of our every day lives that we actually get into the habit of breathing incorrectly.

We then have to learn how to breathe properly again to attempt the reduction of our stress levels.

Signs of stressed breathing

  • Shallow breathing from the chest area
  • Shoulders rise significantly towards ears
  • Irregular breathing pattern with many sighs
  • Air gulping

The affects of breathing incorrectly

When we do not breathe correctly a chain reaction begins within our bodies which can make us feel unwell or even panicky. Here is the chain reaction:

  • We eliminate too much carbon dioxide
  • Our blood becomes too alkaline
  • Blood vessels in the brain narrow
  • Oxygen is reduced in the brain
  • Palpitations, dizziness, chest discomfort or lightheadedness can occur
  • Feelings of panic can occur
  • We may breathe even faster

Breathing exercises

Although the above signs of irregular breathing are mainly in connection with stress causing us to have episodes of rapid breathing,  stress can also get us into the habit of breathing from the chest area most of the time rather than from the abdomen. By learning to breathe correctly again we can in fact reduce the effects of stress and prevent the onset of feelings of panic and  rapid breathing.

Breathing exercises can also be used when feelings of panic do start to take control and by regulating your breathing can prevent the feelings of panic from advancing further or at least shorten the length of the episode. You can’t be relaxed and have feelings of panic at the same time.

Healthy breathing exercises

This exercise helps you to notice where you are breathing from and whether or not you need to carry out some breathing exercises to regulate your breathing.

  • Sit in a comfortable quite place
  • Notice if you are breathing incorrectly by placing one hand on your upper chest and one on your abdomen.
  • Then breathe slowly and normally.
  • If you notice that your chest is moving rather than your abdomen then this may be a sign of stress and incorrect breathing

Exercise for relaxation when you feel feelings of stress

  • Sit with your feet flat on the ground and your arms hanging loosely by your side
  • Breath in slowly and deeply, noticing the rise of your abdomen rather than your chest for the count of three.
  • When your lungs are full, breath out slowly not forcibly. Expel as much of the air from your lungs as possible. Count to four whilst doing this.
  • Repeat this exercise five times, you should not hold your breath it should be a slow smooth process. Use the counts to keep the rhythm.

Tips to help with this exercise

  • Where loose clothing
  • Relax your shoulders
  • Keep the breathing in rhythm ….count as you breathe in…  1, 2, 3, then breathe out, 1, 2, 3, 4 .. all the out breaths should always be slightly longer.

 

Breathing correctly is important for our general health and also in the reduction of the effects of stress on our lives.

When we are stressed we tend to breathe from our upper chest whereas normal breathing should take place lower down in our abdomen.

Stress can become so much part of our every day lives that we actually get into the habit of breathing incorrectly.

We then have to learn how to breathe properly again to attempt the reduction of our stress levels.

Guided relaxation exercise

This video is designed to teach you the basic breathing exercises while in a calm and tranquil environment.  You can use it as a guide or just use the info explained above.  Sometimes a guided relaxation will help you to focus.  Close your eyes and follow along.

Follow along with this video the first couple of times you practice this method of relaxation, and then try the process without it. Practicing everyday for a few minutes will allow you to get the most benefit.

To discover more about why these breathing exercises are so good for stress relief please read my page about the breathing technique and its relationship to how our body functions and why it provides almost instant relaxation.

Make sure you are in a quiet environment and are alone when you watch this video. Its aim is to promote a deep sense of relaxation and well being.

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