9 breathing exercises to relieve anxiety and stress


  • The best breathing exercises include deep breathing, pursed-lip breathing, and the 4-7-8 method.
  • The benefits of breathing exercises include improved concentration, reduced anxiety, and improved sleep.
  • Practice breathing exercises whenever you feel stressed, but try to do it at least once or twice a day.
  • Visit the Insider Health Reference for more tips.

Breathing exercises have far-reaching benefits, including reducing anxiety, sleep, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Whether you’re trying to relieve symptoms of an underlying medical condition or simply seeking a moment of peace and tranquility, each of the following nine breathing techniques has benefits and is easy to do at home.

1. Deep belly breathing.

Deep belly breathingdiaphragmatic breathing is a simple and easy technique that anyone can safely try. He teaches how to breathe properly using the diaphragm, not the pectoral muscles. This is important because diaphragmatic breathing promotes deeper and slower breathing, which has been shown to help. improve focus and reduce stress

How to do it:

  1. Find a comfortable sitting or standing position.
  2. Place one hand on your stomach, just below your ribs. Place your other hand on your chest.
  3. Inhale deeply through your nose, pressing your hand to your stomach.
  4. Exhale, pursing your lips, as if blowing out a candle.
  5. Use your hand to push all the air out of your belly.
  6. Do this three to ten times.

2. Technique 4-7-8

Also known as “relaxing breath” 4-7-8 “The technique relieves stress and anxiety, and also makes it easier to fall asleep,” says Trisha smith, breathing coach, sports chiropractor and founder of Expand Your Human – a lifestyle medicine. Anyone who is anxious or just wants to calm down should try this technique.

How to do it:

Throughout the exercise, hold your tongue behind the palate of your upper teeth and exhale through pursed lips. It slows down your exhalation, so you can easily make it longer than inhalation.

According to Smith, these are the steps for the 4-7-8 technique:

  1. Inhale quietly through your nose for a count of four.
  2. Hold the breath at the top of the inhale for a count of seven.
  3. Exhale through pursed lips for a count of eight.
  4. Repeat the cycle up to four cycles twice a day.

3. Wim Hof’s method

IN Wim Hof Breathing exercises aim to hold deep breathing for longer periods of time than most other breathing practices.

The idea behind holding deep breaths for extended periods of time is that it can enhance your body’s response to stress, which can increase resistance, Smith says. With this technique, Wim Hof ​​was able to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in shorts and stand covered with ice cubes for almost two hours. While the Wim Hof ​​Method can benefit anyone, it can be especially helpful for those looking to improve physical endurance.

How to do it:

According to Wim Hof ​​instructor Smith, the following steps to complete the Wim Hof ​​Method are:

  1. Take 30 to 40 deep breaths.
  2. Take one last breath in as deeply as possible and then exhale through your open mouth.
  3. Hold your exhale and do not inhale until you need to – how long you can do this depends on your fitness level.
  4. Take another big breath to recover.

4. Breathing through pursed lips.

Pursed lip breathing it is a technique that slows your breathing and gives you more control over your breathing.

It can help improve symptoms. shortness of breath, asthma and COPD, speaks Nevsa Fidan Karamehmet, breathing teacher with 20 years of experience, author of The Power of Breath, CEO and Founder Respiratory center

BUT Review 2019 studied the effect of breathing exercises on patients with COPD. Members have improved breathing rate – that is, the number of breaths you take per minute – when you practice pursed-lip breathing, compared to those who did not.

How to do it:

According to Fidan Karamehmet, here are the steps for pursed-lip breathing:

  1. Inhale normally through your nose.
  2. Pause and purse your lips as if you are about to whistle.
  3. Exhale through your mouth. Your pursed lips will control your speed.

5. Lion’s breath

The lion’s breath probably got its name from the fact that it involves opening your mouth wide, sticking your tongue out, and sighing like a lion yawns.

This technique trains your vocal cords more than other breathing exercises and is therefore ideal for singers or singers. people with speech impairments.


How to do it:

According to Sandy Abrams, a breathwork teacher, author of Breathe for Success, here are the steps you need to take to learn how to breathe as a lion:

  1. Find a safe place to sit or stand and then close your eyes.
  2. Focus on yourself and think for a second about what kind of mental stress you want to relieve.
  3. Take a long, slow, deep breath through your nose.
  4. As you exhale, stick out your tongue, bulge your eyes and breathe out loudly with a “haa” sound.
  5. Do this one to three times a day.

6. Alternative breathing through the nostrils.

Alternate nostril breathing is a common breathing technique used in yoga and even Hillary Clinton during the 2016 elections.

“It was designed to increase airflow to both hemispheres of the brain,” says Abrams. This will activate both your logical and creative half. However, there is no scientific evidence to support this. But there is research confirming that this method suppresses anxiety.

For example, in a small 2017 studythe participants did alternate breathing through their nostrils for 15 minutes before simulating a public speaking. Compared to the control group, people who performed the breathing technique had lower anxiety scores.

How to do it:

According to Abrams, these are the steps for alternating breathing through the nostrils:

  1. Close the right nostril securely with your thumb and inhale slowly, deeply through the left nostril.
  2. At the top of inhalation with your ring finger, close the left nostril securely, pausing for a short second, then release your right thumb and exhale through the right nostril.
  3. Then repeat on the other side.
  4. Move back and forth for two to three minutes.

7. Roller breathing.

Roller breathing it is a method that teaches you to make full use of your lung capacity. This is initially practiced while lying down, but once you get comfortable with it, you can do it in any position.

How to do it:

  1. Place one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest.
  2. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth eight to ten times.
  3. As you breathe, practice filling your lungs so that your abdomen expands and your chest remains motionless.
  4. After eight to ten breaths, start inhaling first with the lower chest and then with the upper chest. The hand on your stomach should drop slightly.
  5. As you exhale, make a soft whistling sound through your mouth and lower your arms from your stomach and chest to your side.
  6. Do this for three to five minutes.

8. Breathing box.

Box breathing is a technique that involves inhaling, holding and exhaling the breath for an equal amount of time to calm your body. The symmetry of this practice is unique among breathing exercises such as the 4-7-8 method, which typically emphasizes longer out-breaths than breaths.

How to do it:

According to Fidan Karamehmet, here are the steps to take to breathe sideways:

  1. Inhale slowly through your nose for a count of four.
  2. Hold on four.
  3. Exhale through your nose for a count of four.
  4. Hold on to four.
  5. Repeat as many times as you like.

9. Kapalabhati (breath of fire)

Kapalabhati, also known as fire breathing, is a breathing technique that can make you feel rushed because it affects your core so strongly that it can cause your face to turn red, says Fidan Karamehmet.

This is the main aspect of Kundalini Yoga, a type of yoga designed to re-align your chakras, or “energy centers” in your body. While there is little scientific research on the benefits of breathing fire, anecdotal evidence includes improved circulation and digestion, Fidan Karamehmet said.

How to do it:

According to Fidan Karamehmet, here are the steps for doing kapalabhati:

  1. Sit or stand in a comfortable position and close your eyes.
  2. Place your hands on your knees or thighs, palms up.
  3. Exhale fully in short bursts before inhaling.
  4. Breathe in through your nose and then exhale sharply, contracting your core.

Make sure to squeeze your lower abdomen to force all the air out of your diaphragm and lungs with each exhalation. Concentrate on exhaling and inhaling naturally.

Insider’s conclusion

While each of the above exercises differs in methodology, they all provide the same benefits of focusing your attention on your breathing. It can help calm anxiety, reduce stress, and improve overall well-being.

With continued practice, some of these exercises can even improve lung capacity and relieve symptoms of COPD or asthma, such as pursed-lip breathing. However, if you feel dizzy or dizzy during any of these exercises, catch your breath and stop until you get permission from your healthcare professional.

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