Thursday, 9 February 2012

How To Do Breathing Exercises For Stress Relief |

Everyone experiences periods of stress now and then. This can be from a happy event such as getting married, a job promotion or buying a new home. You may also experience feelings of stress if you are diagnosed with a chronic illness, lose your job or are dealing with a loss. While there are a lot of meditation and relaxation techniques out there to try, just doing a simple breathing exercise can help to bring your stress levels down.

Step 1

Find a quiet spot, a place where you can relax and will not be disturbed for 15 to 20 minutes. It is physiologically more relaxing to lie down, however you want to avoid falling asleep, so you may need to sit. Plan to take at least 15 minutes for your breathing exercise and find a way to time yourself that will not startle you. You can use some quiet music that will play for the exact time you want to meditate or use a relaxation CD.

Step 2

Do nasal breathing. Most of us breathe shallow and through the mouth. Since your nasal passage contains special structures designed to help purify and warm the air you inhale, it is more relaxing to inhale and exhale just through the nose. If you have respiratory or sinus problems you can inhale through the nose and exhale through pursed lips. If you find that you get dizzy, take a few breaths through the mouth and then return to nasal breathing. With time you will get more used to breathing just through the nose.

Step 3

Use deep diaphragmatic breathing. Above your stomach and underneath your lungs is your diaphragm muscle. This muscle helps you to breathe. When you inhale you want your stomach to move outwards. This creates room for the diaphragm to drop which in turn allows the lungs to take in air and fully expand. When you exhale, you want the stomach to move inwards. As the the diaphragm muscle is engaged it moves upwards. This helps to compress the lungs so you can push the air out and clear your lungs. Breathing this way may feel backwards at first, since there is a tendency to pull the stomach in with the inhale, but you will find it gets easier with practice.

Step 4

Allow the breath to help your body and mind relax. Start taking slow deep belly breaths. Try to make each breath a little deeper and a little slower. With each exhale let go of any tension and allow the body to sink into relaxation. If it helps, you can use the first few minutes to scan the body. Inhale into any areas that feel tight or tense, and then let the tension go as you exhale. You can also physically tighten your muscles as you inhale and then relax them as you exhale.

Step 5

Keep your attention on your breath. Be fully aware of the sensation of breathing deeply. Feel the air entering and exiting your nose. Be aware of your stomach gently rising and falling with the breath. For the next 15 minutes allow your attention to remain on the breath. If your mind wanders, just simply, without judgment, bring your attention back to your breath. When first learning this technique you may need to bring your attention back quite often. However, this also will get easier with practice. If it helps you can also silently say one on the inhale and two on the exhale. The goal is to shift your mind away from stressful thoughts and focus just on your breathing. This sends a signal to the body and mind that you are relaxed and there is nothing to feel worried about.

Step 6

Incorporate alternate nostril breathing. Take your right thumb and close off your right nostril. Inhale fully and deeply through your left nostril. Use your right index finger to close off the left nostril as well. Gently hold the breath in for a moment. When it feels natural to do so, remove your right thumb and allow the right nostril to open. Exhale fully through the right nostril. Then let go of the nose completely and gently hold the breath out for a moment. Repeat except this time block the left nostril. Inhale through the right nostril and exhale through the left. Continue for 10 to 15 minutes, alternating the sides the of nose you inhale and exhale through.

Step 7

Come out of your meditation slowly. Allow yourself to return to normal breathing and come out of the breathing exercise slowly. Take a few moments to notice how this exercise makes you feel. Avoid returning right back to a hectic schedule. Aim to do some type of breathing technique at least 15 minutes each day.

Tips and Warnings

  • If you have sinus or respiratory issues, or tend to become dizzy breathe in a way that feels comfortable to you.
  • Do not breathe forcefully as this will create stress in the body. Inhale and exhale slowly and in a relaxed fashion.

Things You'll Need

  • Meditation CD


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