Stress can show itself in so many different ways and often at inconvenient times. It’s often impossible to practice self-care, especially when feeling overwhelmed at work or during a difficult period running your own business. However, there are several ways you can reduce stress and promote relaxation at work. Breathing exercises are one such method: they don’t require any additional equipment or even the need to leave your desk. Discover how to harness the positive power of breathing exercises in this guide, explaining the health benefits of practising deep breathing regularly.
How do breathing exercises reduce stress?
Breathing exercises can reduce stress by increasing oxygen exchange, which reduces your blood pressure, slows the heart, and releases any tension held in the abdomen. These physical changes also benefit your mental state – concentrating on your breath can bring you into the present, in a state of mindfulness. Breathing exercises are particularly effective during periods of stress when your body is in “fight or flight” mode. This state of mind increases your heartbeat and encourages fast, shallow breathing patterns due to the feeling of imminent danger. Fortunately, in today’s world, the risks that trigger fight or flight mode are often less harmful than predators; they tend to be stressful situations or experiences that cause anxiety.
What are the benefits of breathing exercises?
- According to Harvard Medical School, deep breathing exercises provide several medical benefits:
- Increased oxygen exchange
- Slower heartbeat
- Lower or stabilised blood pressure
- Reduction of tension in the abdomen
- Reduction in feelings of stress or anxiety
While breathing exercises may not be a full stress-management technique, they are clinically proven to lessen the symptoms of stress.
How to practice diaphragmatic breathing
One of the simplest Breathing Exercises Device you can do is diaphragmatic breathing, also known as belly breathing. This conscious breathing technique engages the diaphragm, a dome-shaped muscle under the lungs that is the most efficient muscle of breathing and can lessen the symptoms of stress, anxiety and panic alongside other health benefits. Regularly breathing in this way, as well as tapping into this breath pattern in times of stress, can have a direct positive effect on your mind and body after just a few minutes…
Diaphragmatic Breathing Tutorial
Start by getting comfortable. Loosen any restrictive clothing, and find a comfortable position for you – this may be sitting down, laying down, or standing up if that’s not possible. In your comfortable position, rest your feet on the floor, and place one hand on your chest and the other hand on your belly. Through your nose, let your breath flow deep down into your abdomen, feeling your stomach expand into the arrow above it. The hand above your chest wants to remain as still as possible. Breathe out through pursed lips, slow and steady. Repeat steps 3 and 4, concentrating on your technique and timing, taking slower and deeper breaths than your regular Breath Training Device, in and out. Once you have gotten used to breathing deeply using your diaphragm, you might try adding a counting pattern to help focus the mind and down-regulate your physical stress response. Remember to go at your own pace, especially if you are new to conscious breathing and are working with cardio-respiratory conditions.
Count to 3 on each inhale, and exhale for four counts. As long as each inhale is noticeably shorter than each exhale, you can take this pattern at a pace that feels good for you. Try this if your thoughts distract you from sleep or after a sweaty workout when your heart is racing.
Count to 5 on each inhale and exhale. Gradually increase the time between each count until each count represents 1 second so that each complete breath cycle takes 10 seconds. This can be done at any time, at any place, when you want to calm your nerves and take a moment for yourself.