3 Breathing Techniques To Decrease Stress That Actually Work
We’ve written many blogs about stress, but it’s, unfortunately, a hot topic and isn’t going anywhere! We know that stress is inevitable. It happens from time to time, for some more than others, all at once or spread out. Regardless of how stress comes into your life, you have a choice of how you handle it. Our bodies have a fight-or-flight response to stress. Regardless of the stressor, our bodies react the same – like a soccer ball is coming straight for our head. We either run away from it (flight) or swat it away (fight). The problem occurs when we continue to worry about these soccer balls and the stress doesn’t go away – it becomes chronic which can lead to all sorts of health problems such as immune suppression, depression, and anxiety to name a few.
There are many tools available to handle stress, and breathwork is one of them. Now, we may not always have time for a 15-30 minute meditation every time we get stressed, I sure don’t. But, we do have a few moments when that stressor occurs to tap into our parasympathetic nervous system and tell our bodies we are okay. This is where the power of breathwork comes in, and the good news is you only need a few minutes to benefit from this practice.
Here are a few different types of breathwork that help combat stress and take as little as one minute to complete. Try them all, see what works for you!
What is it: Box breathing, is a deep breathing technique that can help you slow down your breathing by distracting your mind and focusing on your breathing as you count to 4. Thus calming your nervous system, and decreasing stress in your body.
How it works: Think of a box. You breathe in for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, breathe out for 4 counts, and hold for 4 counts. Continue this technique for as long as you’d like until you feel calmer. Here’s a great graphic to showcase this technique!
What is it: The diaphragm is a large dome-shaped muscle located at the base of your lungs. It enables us to use 100% of our lung capacity to increase its efficiency, and to use less effort to breathe thus slowing down our heart rate, our blood pressure and calming us down.
How it works: You can do this seated or laying down. Place one hand on your upper chest and the other just below your rib cage. This will allow you to feel your diaphragm move as you breathe.
Breathe in slowly through your nose so that your stomach rises against your hand.
Tighten your stomach muscles, so that your stomach falls, as you exhale through pursed lips. Your hand on your chest and stomach remains still and calm as the belly rises and falls.
What is it: Like box breathing, except you imagine a triangle. Using imagery, you focus on the shape of the triangle and breathe.
How it works: Imagine a triangle. Breathe while counting to 3 and imagining the
first side of the triangle. Breathe out while counting to 6 and imagining the other two
sides of the triangle. Repeat. This visual helps you find the cadence of your breath while you watch the triangle rise and fall.