Focus on your breathing to release stress

Category: Article or Blog Published: Tuesday, 08 December 2015 Written by Sarah PJ White

A hectic lifestyle will inevitably lead to stress. Unless you’re lucky enough to work for yourself or work from home, there’s the commute into work and back again, the queues and traffic, and the general feeling that everything and everyone are just too busy to slow down or take a breather.

And sometimes, we just want the pace to stop, or at least slow down enough so we can catch our breath and our bearings!

Why you need to take a breather

You may not be able to change your work situation or the general busyness of others – but you can release that pent up stress.

Giving yourself a 10-20 minute timeout to focus on your breathing will enable you to do just that, as well as allowing you the space to calm down and take a step back from your life.

Breathing is just breathing… right?

You see, breathing itself is automatic to us all – but that doesn’t mean we’re actually doing it right! Stressed and busy people tend to shallow breathe – taking short, shallow breathes from their upper chest area. This can quickly lead to hyperventilation, anxiety and panic attacks, plus it can also prolong the associated feelings – especially as shallow breathing is actually part of the typical stress and fight or flight response.

Abdominal breathing, on the other hand, aids relaxation and promotes stress relief – meaning lower blood pressure, a steadier, slower heartbeat, reduced stress levels and an increase in your energy.

By breathing slowly, deeply and evenly through your nose you’re ensuring you have a balanced oxygen and carbon dioxide in your blood – and this leads to an improved immune system and reduced lactic acid build-up in the muscles of your body.

Practice better breathing

  • Sit comfortably and raise your ribcage to expand your chest.
  • Place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen.
  • Feel how they move whilst you breathe.
  • Breathe in through your nose for a slow count of five (don’t worry if you can’t reach five just yet, keep practicing until you can).
  • Allow your chest and lower stomach to rise.
  • Breathe out through your mouth for a slow count of five.

Get yourself into a routine of practicing this breathing technique twice a day for 10-20 minutes a time and you’ll soon start to notice an improvement in both your mood and your energy levels.

Image © bertys30/Dollar Photo Club

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