A survey by AXA has revealed that as many as 82% of us sometimes feel stressed out. Whilst increasing evidence has emerged that breathing techniques can help us reduce symptoms of stress and achieve mental calm, most of us simply do not breathe properly.
When we are experiencing stress or feeling anxious our breathing becomes faster and more erratic but there are quick and simple breathing techniques that we can incorporate into our everyday lives which can quickly and effectively reduce the symptoms of stress and anxiety whenever and wherever it strikes.
This breathing exercise which takes as little as 3 minutes is recommended by the NHS for reducing the symptoms of stress, anxiety and panic attacks.
In this exercise try to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
Inhale gently whilst silently counting to 5 (don’t worry if you at first you can’t count t to five).
Allow the breath to flow as deeply down into your belly as is comfortable without forcing it.
Don’t pause or hold the breath.
Gently exhale whilst silently counting to 5.
Continue breathing in this way for 3 to 5 minutes
Slow Deep Breathing
With this breathing technique, we concentrate on taking slow deep breaths and focus on the exhalation.
Inhale through the nose for a count of four whilst focusing on your belly expanding.
Then exhale through the nose for a count of six and notice the belly contract.
Repeat this process six times.
Here’s a simple yet relaxing exercise that you can do while you are sitting or lying down. Begin by doing it 3 times and slowly build up to10 times. During this exercise remember to take your time over each breath.
Place one hand on your belly and the other on your chest.
Inhale deeply through your nose and allow your belly to push your hand out without moving the chest.
Exhale through pursed lips whilst allowing the hand on your belly to move inwards and gently assist with pushing the air out.
Alternate Nostril Breathing
Alternative Nostril Breathing, also known as nadi shodhana made the headlines when Hilary Clinton hailed its benefits. It’s a form of the ancient yogic practise ‘pranayama’, which is believed to regulate the nasal air flow and improve balance in the mind. Nadi shodhana has proven effective in reducing stress, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder.
In Buddhist based mindfulness meditation focusing on the breath is used as a way to remain present in the moment and stop the mind leaping around. Mindfulness meditation is a great relaxation technique that has long been known to alleviate anxiety and improve mental wellbeing.
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References AXA [2[Daily Telegraph  Science Mag  New York Times  Cosmopolitan  Psychology Today  NHS  Huffington Post  Business Insider  NCBI The Buddhist Centre