Stress causes our bodies react by releasing hormones and chemicals that set us on alert. This is sometimes called the stress response.
You may have also heard this called the fight-or-flight response. Research has recently expanded this to fight, flight or freeze.
The stress response is designed to be triggered when we are in mortal danger to protect us from that danger. The problem comes in when everyday activities activate the stress response.
According to Harvard Health Publications, “health problems are one result (of stress). A prime example is high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease. The stress response also suppresses the immune system, increasing susceptibility to colds and other illnesses. Moreover, the buildup of stress can contribute to anxiety and depression.”
Learning how to manage your stress can be as simple as learning breathing techniques.
Here is a list of different breathing exercises for you to try:
1) Breath Counting
I do this with every patient that comes into the office for the first time. It is simple and powerful. It helps you to become conscious of your breathing.
Sit with your spine erect but relaxed. Begin by breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.
Once you have finished your exhale, mentally count the number one. Then take your next breath again in through your nose and out through your mouth and count two. Continue until you reach ten.
If you lose your count you have to start over at one until you can get to ten with no interruption.
This is particularly powerful when you are stressed, because it is easy to lose count if you are not paying attention to your breath.
2) Sama Vritti or “Equal Breathing”
This only requires you to inhale and exhale for the same duration. It is done by breathing in through your nose for four counts. Then you breath out of your nose for the same four counts. Continue for a few minutes.
3) Abdominal Breathing Technique
My mentor also calls this belly breathing. Sit in a comfortable position with both hands on your belly. As you breathe in, expand your belly into your hands and as you breathe out, push your belly towards your spine.
I recommend at least 10 deep breaths.
4) Progressive Relaxation
This is where you focus on a particular muscle group and you tense that muscle group, like your calf muscles for example, then you relax them. You do this for all the muscles in your body.
As you tense each group breathe in through your nose, and as you relax breath out through your mouth, you can even sigh. It helps relax everything.
5) 4-7-8 Relaxed Breath
A friend of mine raves about this type of relaxed breathing. She does it before she starts meditation.
Place the tip of your tongue just behind the your front teeth, on the tissue part of the top of your mouth. Leave it there during the entire breathing cycle.
Exhale through your mouth with the sound of a whoosh. Now close your mouth and inhale through your nose, while mentally counting to four. Next hold your breath for the count of seven. Finally exhale through your mouth to the count of eight.
This relaxes the nervous system. Repeat 4 times in total. It is great to try at least twice a day.
There you go! Five breathing exercises that are simple, and that you can do anywhere to relieve stress.
Dr. Daemon Jones
This article was originally published on EmpowHer.com