Discover effective breathing exercises to relieve stress that can help you relax and find inner calm. Improve your wel l-being today!

Discover effective breathing exercises to relieve stress that can help you relax and find inner calm. Improve your wel l-being today.

Stress has become a phenomenon too common in our accelerated society, which affects people of all ages and origins. If not addressed, chronic stress can have detrimental effects for our physical and mental wel l-being. Although there are several therapeutic methods to relieve stress, one of the most effective and has raised more attention is that of breathing exercises to relieve stress. This holistic technique aims to encourage relaxation, reduce anxiety and improve general emotional wel l-being taking advantage of the power of breathing.

Research has shown that breathing exercises activate the body relaxation response, triggering a physiological change that counteracts the effects of stress.

A highly recommended breathing exercise is the “4-7-8” technique, which consists of inhaling by the nose counting up to four, enduring the breath telling up to seven and slowly exhaling through the mouth counting up to eight. This exercise encourages deeper and slower breaths, allowing the body to receive more oxygen and triggering a relaxation response. When focusing on breathing, people can divert their attention from stressful factors, calibrate their heart rate and reduce blood pressure levels.

Another effective respiratory exercise is diaphragmatic breathing, also known as abdominal breathing. This technique consists of breathing deeply, allowing the diaphragm to expand completely and experiencing the sensation of breathing in the abdomen instead of a superficial thoracic breathing. Diaphragmatic breathing not only favors relaxation, but also increases lung capacity and improves oxygen exchange, allowing the body to better manage stress and maintain balance.

Deep Belly Breathing: The Key to Relaxation

When we are stressed or anxious, our breathing tends to be superficial and fast, with the chest and shoulders up and down. This superficial breathing restricts the contribution of oxygen and triggers the organism’s response to stress, which increases the sensation of tension. On the contrary, deep abdominal breathing favors a slower and more controlled breathing, in which diaphragm muscles intervene and allows a greater oxygen exchange in the lungs.

Main benefits of deep abdominal breathing:

  • Promotes relaxation and reduces stress
  • Improves attention and concentration
  • Improves blood oxygenation
  • Stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system

To effectively practice deep abdominal breathing, it is important to find a comfortable, quiet place to sit or lie down. Start by placing one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen. Close your eyes and inhale deeply through your nose, letting the air descend to your belly. As you inhale, feel your abdomen rise and expand, pushing your hand outward. Exhale slowly through your mouth, emptying your lungs completely and feeling your belly lower. Repeat this slow, controlled deep breathing several times, focusing on the feeling of deep relaxation with each exhalation.

A useful technique to guide deep abdominal breathing is counting. Inhale for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of four, and exhale for a count of four. This rhythmic breathing pattern helps induce a state of calm and allows for synchronized relaxation of the body and mind. Practice deep abdominal breathing regularly, especially during times of high stress or when you need a moment of relaxation, and experience the many benefits it brings to your overall well-being.

Box Breathing: Regulating Your Breath for Calmness

Square breathing, also known as square breathing or four-frame breathing, is a simple practice that involves inhaling, holding your breath, exhaling, and holding your breath again, each time for the same amount of time. The four steps of equal length form a square pattern, hence the name. This balanced breathing technique has been used for centuries in various traditional practices, such as yoga and meditation, to promote relaxation and improve mental clarity.

The Box Breathing Technique:

  1. Inhale: Start by breathing slowly and deeply through your nose, counting to four as you fill your lungs with air. Focus on expanding your abdomen instead of breathing shallowly through your chest.
  2. Hold: Once your lungs are full, hold your breath for a count of four seconds. Keep your body relaxed and a constant rhythm.
  3. Exhale: Exhale slowly and completely through your mouth, again counting to four. Empty your lungs completely and feel the tension release from your body.
  4. Hold: After exhaling, hold your breath for another four seconds before starting the cycle again.

This rhythmic breathing pattern helps regulate the body’s autonomic nervous system, shifting the balance from the sympathetic response (fight or flight) to the parasympathetic response (rest and digest). Activates the relaxation response, promoting a state of calm, reducing anxiety and improving attention and concentration. Intentional focus on breathing also helps clear the mind of stressors and negative thoughts, promoting mental clarity and emotional balance.

Alternate Nostril Breathing: Balancing Your Energy

Alternate-nostril breathing focuses on balancing the flow of energy, or prana, in our body. The basic principle is to inhale and exhale through alternate nostrils, using specific hand positions to regulate the flow of your breath. This rhythmic breathing technique has been recognized for its ability to calm the mind, reduce stress, and improve our overall physical and mental state.

How to practice alternate nostril breathing:

  1. Sit comfortably in a quiet place, with your spine straight and shoulders relaxed.
  2. Place your left hand on your left knee, palm up, and bring your right hand to your face.
  3. With your right thumb, gently close your right nostril and inhale deeply through the left.
  4. Pause for a moment, then use your right ring finger to close your left nostril, release your thumb, and exhale through your right nostril.
  5. Inhale deeply through the right nostril and close it with your thumb.
  6. Release the ring finger from the left nostril and exhale through the left.
  7. This completes one round. Continue for 5-10 rounds, gradually increasing the duration as you feel comfortable.

This practice can be incorporated into your daily routine as a quick stress-relieving exercise or as a way to start and end your meditation or yoga practice. It is believed to harmonize the left and right sides of the brain, promoting a sense of balance and inner harmony. Additionally, alternate-nostril breathing has been found to improve lung function, increase concentration, and support overall respiratory health.

Benefits of alternate nostril breathing
Physical benefits Mental benefits
  • Improves respiratory function
  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Increases lung capacity
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Reduces anxiety and stress
  • Promotes mental clarity
  • Calms the nervous system
  • Improves focus and concentration

4-7-8 Breathing Technique: A Quick Fix for Anxiety

The 4-7-8 breathing technique is based on the principles of deep and controlled breathing. It consists of inhaling counting up to 4, keeping breathing counting up to 7 and exhaling telling up to 8. By prolonging exhalation, this technique helps activate the body’s relaxation response, slowing down the heart rate and promoting a sensation of calm. In addition, the rhythmic nature of the respiratory pattern can divert the attention of anxious thoughts towards the present moment.

Key steps to practice breathing technique 4-7-8:

  1. Sit or lie in a comfortable position, making sure the column is straight.
  2. Place one hand on the chest and the other in the abdomen.
  3. Deeply inspire the nose, counting up to 4 in silence.
  4. Hold your breathing counting up to 7.
  5. Exhale completely through the mouth, counting up to 8.
  6. Repeat the cycle for a total of 4 breaths.

Note: It is important to maintain a constant rhythm and do not rush when counting. The accounts can be adjusted slightly to adapt to individual comfort levels, but it is recommended to maintain the proportion of 4: 7: 8 to obtain optimal benefits. With regular practice, this technique can be incorporated into daily routines and serve as a valuable tool to control anxiety and promote relaxation.

Counting breaths: Focusing your mind to reduce stress

Telling breathing is a simple but powerful technique that allows people to regain control over their breathing and thoughts, effectively controlling stress. By consciously counting each inhalation and each exhalation, we focus our attention on the present moment and prevent our mind from wandering and look at stressful thoughts. This practice encourages a state of full attention and relaxation that allows us to detach ourselves from the concerns and anxieties that can overwhelm us.

“The technique of counting breathing is a practice based on full attention that has shown to provide significant benefits in stress reduction and the promotion of emotional wel l-being.”- Dr. Samantha Smith, Mindfulness expert

There are several ways to incorporate breath counting into the daily routine. One of them is to use the breathing technique 4-7-8, in which it is inhaled by counting up to 4, the breath endures up to 7 and exhale telling up to 8. This rhythmic pattern helps to regulate breathing and induces a sensationof calm.

  • Look for a quiet and comfortable place where you can sit or lie down.
  • Close your eyes and breathe deeply to relax the body.
  • Start counting your breaths, starting by 1 and continuing up to 10.

By incorporating breath counting into your daily routine, you can effectively reduce stress levels, improve concentration and increase general wel l-being. Practice this technique regularly to experience all its benefits and enjoy a more relaxed and balanced mental state.

Resonant Breathing: Harnessing the Power of Your Heartbeat

Resonant breathing stimulates the natural relaxation response of the body. When we breathe at a specific frequency that coincides with the individual variability of our heart rate, we create a harmonious rhythm that indicates to the body that is safe and can relax. This activates the parasympathetic nervous system, responsible for promoting the feeling of calm and reducing stress.

Resonant breathing consists of inhaling and exhaling at a specific pace of 5 to 6 breaths per minute, which corresponds approximately 5 or 6 seconds per respiratory cycle. This slow and controlled breathing pattern helps regulate heart rate and activate the organism’s relaxation response.

  • Reduces stress and anxiety levels
  • Improves the variability of heart rate
  • Improve cognitive function
  • Improves sleep
  • Strengthens the immune system

Incorporating resonant breathing to the daily routine is easy and can be done at any time and place. Put yourself in a comfortable posture, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Inhale deeply by the nose counting up to 5 and then exhale slowly by the mouth telling up to 5. Repeat this process for 5 or 10 minutes. Repeat this process of 5 to 10 minutes and go gradually increasing the duration of the sessions.

  1. Start by looking for a quiet and peaceful environment in which you can comfortably practice resonant breathing.
  2. Sit in a chair or lie in a mat, making sure that your body is very subject.
  3. Place one hand on the chest and the other in the abdomen. Feel the ascent and descent of your breathing with each inhalation and exhalation.
  4. Center your attention on your heartbeat and try to synchronize your breathing with your rhythm. Inhale and exhale at a rate of 5 to 6 breaths per minute.
  5. Continue this practice during the time you want, gradually expanding time as you feel more comfortable.
Benefits of resonant breathing
– Reduces stress and anxiety levels
– Improves the variability of heart rate
– Improves cognitive function
– Improves sleep
– Strengthens the immune system

Author of the article
Dr.Greenblatt M.
Dr.Greenblatt M.
Medical oncologist at the Robert Larner College of Medicine, MD, at the University of Vermont

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