In the hustle and bustle of life, we even forget to breathe properly and the amount of stress paramount our heads, the body starts feeling physical symptoms of mental stress. Inhaling, exhaling a few deep breaths every day could make a drastic improvement in your lifestyle. No, we are not exaggerating when we say this.
Taking just a few moments each day to practice some deep breathing exercises can decrease stress, relax your mind, body, and can help you sleep better.
Here are 5 breathing techniques to calm your mind and improve overall health.
Resonant breathing, also called coherent breathing, can help you calm anxiety and get into a relaxed state. To try it yourself:
1. Lie down and close your eyes.
2. Gently breathe in through your nose, mouth closed, for a count of six seconds.
3. Don’t fill your lungs too full of air.
4. Exhale for six seconds, allowing your breath to leave your body slowly and gently. Don’t force it.
5. Continue for up to 10 minutes.
6. Take a few additional minutes to be still and focus on how your body feels.
Breathing from your diaphragm (the muscle that sits just beneath your lungs) can help reduce the amount of work your body needs to do in order to breathe.
To learn how to breathe from your diaphragm:
1. For comfort, lie down on the floor or bed with pillows beneath your head and knees. Or sit in a comfortable chair with your head, neck, and shoulders relaxed, and your knees bent.
2. Then, put one hand under your rib cage and one hand over your heart.
3. Inhale and exhale through your nose, noticing how or if your stomach and chest move as you breathe.
4. Can you isolate your breathing so you bring air deeper into your lungs? What about the reverse? Can you breathe so your chest moves more than your stomach?
Eventually, you want your stomach to move as you breathe, instead of your chest.
Practice belly breathing
1. Sit or lie down as described above.
2. Place one hand on your chest and one hand on your stomach somewhere above your belly button.
3. Breathe in through your nose, noticing your stomach rise. Your chest should remain relatively still.
4. Purse your lips and exhale through your mouth. Try engaging your stomach muscles to push air out at the end of the breath.
For this type of breathing to become automatic, you’ll need to practice it daily. Try doing exercise three or four times a day for up to 10 minutes.
If you haven’t been using your diaphragm to breathe, you may feel tired at first. It’ll get easier with practice though.
Lengthen your exhale
Inhaling deeply may not always calm you down. Taking a deep breath is actually linked to the sympathetic nervous system, which controls the fight-or-flight response. But exhaling is linked to the parasympathetic nervous system, which influences our body’s ability to relax and calm down.
Taking too many deep breaths too quickly can actually cause you to hyperventilate. Hyperventilation decreases the amount of oxygen-rich blood that flows to your brain.
When we feel anxious or under stress, it’s easier to breathe too much and end up hyperventilating even if we’re trying to do the opposite.
1. Before you take a big, deep breath, try a thorough exhale instead. Push all the air out of your lungs, then simply let your lungs do their work inhaling air.
2. Next, try spending a little bit longer exhaling than you do inhaling. For example, try inhaling for four seconds, then exhale for six.
3. Try doing this for two to five minutes.
This technique can be done in any position that’s comfortable for you, including standing, sitting, or lying down.
4-7-8 breathing technique
Before starting the breathing pattern, adopt a comfortable sitting position and place the tip of the tongue on the tissue right behind the top front teeth.
To use the 4-7-8 technique, focus on the following breathing pattern:
-empty the lungs of air
-breathe in quietly through the nose for 4 seconds
-hold the breath for a count of 7 seconds
-exhale forcefully through the mouth, pursing the lips and making a “whoosh” sound, for 8 seconds
repeat the cycle up to 4 times.
Alternate nostril breathing
To try alternate nostril breathing, sit down in a comfortable place, lengthening your spine and opening your chest.
Rest your left hand in your lap and raise your right hand. Then, rest the pointer and middle fingers of your right hand on your forehead, in between the eyebrows. Close your eyes, inhaling and exhaling through your nose.
1. Use your right thumb to close the right-hand nostril and inhale slowly through the left.
2. Pinch your nose closed between your right thumb and ring finger, holding the breath in for a moment.
3. Use your right ring finger to close your left nostril and exhale through the right, waiting for a moment before you inhale again.
4. Inhale slowly through the right nostril.
5. Pinch your nose closed again, pausing for a moment.
6. Now, open the left side and exhale, waiting a moment before you inhale again.
7. Repeat this cycle of inhaling and exhaling through either nostril up to 10 times. Each cycle should take up to 40 seconds.