There are many relaxation techniques to choose from. Yet, many require longer time and space to practice, which is not always available to us in the moment of stress. So what to do fast, now and what will take the stress away? Breath it out!
No one can avoid all stress, but you can counteract its detrimental effects by learning how to produce the relaxation response, a state of deep rest that is the polar opposite of the stress response. The relaxation response puts the brakes on stress and brings your body and mind back into a state of equilibrium.
When the relaxation response is activated, your:
heart rate slows down
breathing becomes slower and deeper
blood pressure stabilizes
blood flow to the brain increases
Thanks to practicing breathing you have access to all the above at any moment, right when you needed because no special clothes or space is required. To help you choose which what works for you, below is the list of 3 breathing techniques worth trying:
1. DEEP BREATHING
With its focus on full, cleansing breaths, deep breathing is a simple yet powerful relaxation technique. It’s easy to learn, can be practiced almost anywhere, and provides a quick way to get your stress levels in check.
The key to deep breathing is to breathe deeply from the abdomen, getting as much fresh air as possible in your lungs. When you take deep breaths from the abdomen, rather than shallow breaths from your upper chest, you inhale more oxygen. The more oxygen you get, the less tense, short of breath, and anxious you feel.
Sit comfortably with your back straight. Put one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach.
Breathe in through your nose. The hand on your stomach should rise. The hand on your chest should move very little.
Exhale through your mouth, pushing out as much air as you can while contracting your abdominal muscles. The hand on your stomach should move in as you exhale, but your other hand should move very little.
Continue to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Try to inhale enough so that your lower abdomen rises and falls. Count slowly as you exhale.
If you find it difficult breathing from your abdomen while sitting up, try lying down. Put a small book on your stomach, and breathe so that the book rises as you inhale and falls as you exhale.
2. ALTERNATE NOSTRIL BREATHING
This breathing is said to bring calm, balance, and unite the right and left sides of the brain.
Start in a comfortable position
Hold the right thumb over the right nostril and inhale deeply through the left nostril
At the peak of inhalation, close off the left nostril with the ring finger, then exhale through the right nostril
Continue the pattern, inhaling through the right nostril, closing it off with the right thumb, and exhaling through the left nostril.
3. SCHOOL SHINING BREATH
It is a pretty abdominal-intensive one but it will warm up the body, shake off stale energy, and wake up the brain. Consider this an alternative to a shot of espresso.
Begin with a long, slow inhale
Follow with a quick, powerful exhale generated from the lower belly
Once comfortable with the contraction, up the pace to one inhale-exhale (all through the nose) every one to two seconds, for a total of 10 breaths.