Breathing Exercises to Help You Focus and Reduce Stress

Breathing Exercises to Help You Focus and Reduce Stress

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One of the most overlooked, yet most effective stress management tools is something we involuntarily carry with us throughout every second of the day… our breath. There is a very good reason why you often hear people say, “just keep breathing”. Studies show that deep breathing exercises can have a dramatic effect on your state of mind, alongside improve the quality of your meditation practice. So, if you have noticed that you feel breathless due to anxiety and stress, you have good news! There are multiple breathing techniques you can use to alleviate symptoms and start feeling better. Let’s look into them together. 

Pursed Lip Breathing 

This breathing technique forces you to slow down your pace of breathing by having you apply deliberate effort in each and every breath. It is recommended practising this breathing technique 5 times per day in the beginning so that you correctly learn the breathing pattern. How to do it? 

  1. Relax your neck and shoulders
  2. Keeping your mouth closed, inhale slowly through your nose for 2 counts. 
  3. Purse your lips as thought you were going to whistle. 
  4. Exhale slowly by blowing air through your pursed lips for a count of 4. 

Lengthen Your Exhale 

You may have noticed that inhaling deeply doesn’t always calm you down. This is because taking a deep breath in is actually linked to the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for your fight-or-flight response. However, exhaling is linked to the parasympathetic nervous system, which influencer yours body’s ability to relax and calm down. How to do it? 

  1. Before you take a big, deep breath, try a thorough exhale instead. Push all the air out of your lungs, and then simply let your lungs do their work inhaling air. 
  2. Next, try spending a little bit longer exhaling than you do inhaling. 
  3. Try doing this for 2 to 5 minutes. 

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Also known as belly breathing, this technique may make you feel a little bit tired but over time the technique should become easier and feel more natural. How to do it? 

  1. Lie on your back with your knees slightly bent and your head on a pillow. 
  2. You may place a pillow under your knees for support. 
  3. Place one hand on your upper chest and one hand below your rib cage, allowing you to feel the movement of your diaphragm. 
  4. Slowly inhale through your nose, feeling your stomach pressing into your hand. 
  5. Keep your other hand as still as possible. 

Equal Breathing 

This is another breathing technique that stems from the ancient practice of pranayama yoga. Equal breathing simply refers to inhaling for the same amount of time as you’re exhaling. How to do it?

  1. Shut your eyes and pay attention to the way your normally breathe for several breaths. 
  2. Then, slowly count 1-2-3-4 as you inhale through your nose
  3. Exhale for the same four-second count
  4. As you inhale and exhale, be mindful of the feelings of fullness and emptiness in your lungs. 

Lion’s Breath 

This breathing technique is an energizing yoga breathing practice that is supposed to relive tension in your chest and face. How to do it?

  1. Come into a comfortable seated position. 
  2. Press your palms against your knees with your fingers spread wide
  3. Inhale deeply through your nose and open your eyes wide
  4. At the same time, open your mouth wide and stick out your tongue, bringing the tip down towards your chin. 
  5. Contract the muscles at the front of your throat as you exhale out through your mouth by making a long “ha” sound. 
  6. You can turn your gaze to look at the space between your eyebrows or the tip of your nose. 
  7. Do this breath 2 to 3 times. 

Enjoy reading our mindfulness articles? There’s more where that came from! Check it out here.

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