It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the day leaving you feeling drained and fatigued by the time the sun starts to set. Most of us don’t pay any attention to breathing as the body automatically executes this ongoing action but did you know that during extreme periods of stress and anxiety, turning your attention towards intentional breathing may help you be able to calm down?
Controlled breathing can help lower blood pressure, achieve relaxation, and allow moments of high stress to pass by without harming your mind and body. You can increase your breath awareness by practicing the following techniques whenever and wherever you find yourself to help establish the ability to self sooth and to teach you to turn inward to find the ability to relax!
To start, nostril breathing is a great way to find balance and promote calming of the body. How it works is that you close one nostril using your finger while slowly inhaling through the open nostril, then trade the finger and exhale slowly from the opposite nostril. Continue on to develop a pattern of inhalation/exhalation while alternating nostrils. This type of breathing is great for helping you reenergize and focus so it’s excellent for an afternoon pick me up instead of that soda or coffee. Make sure to take deep breathes and inhale and exhale slow and deliberately.
Similar to nostril breathing above, for this breath technique, place one hand on the lower stomach and the other on your chest. Inhale deeply through the nose and concentrate on making your lungs expand. You should not feel the hand on your stomach move but instead just the hand on your chest. Try to take at least five deep breaths a minute for five minutes a day. Really concentrate on expanding your chest with your deep inhale!
Lastly, balanced breathing is a great tool to help zero in your focus on your breath. For this one, take slow deep breathes in and match the count of your inhale to your exhale. For example, if you breathe in to a count of six, slowly exhale to a count of six. This type of breathing is especially good to help calm the central nervous system and is a great tool for you to use in the face of stress or anxiety. The next time you have to make a major decision, try a few balanced breaths first.
Regardless of what type of intentional breath awareness you employ, all of the techniques above are tools you can use to help you curb your stress levels. Plus, if you practice enough, you can establish a healthy habit of calming yourself to carry with you throughout life!