Catch Your Breath: 4 Deep Breathing Exercises To Relieve Stress

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Trying to meet unrealistic deadlines at work, constant touch with technology, late night outings, unhealthy food choices are all features of a stressful 21st century lifestyle! Stress leads to palpitations, anxiety and shallow breathing. It also leads to secretion of hormones like cortisol, which increases chances of blood pressure, imbalances in blood sugar levels  and suppresses immunity. In the long run, stress can lead to increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, infertility, eating disorders and chronic pain.


-Scientific studies have shown that deep breathing exercises help manage stress and stress-related conditions.

-Practices such as yoga, tai chi, most martial arts and some forms of meditation are based on the principal of mastery over breathing.

-Typically, an anxious person takes small, shallow breaths, using the upper parts of the respiratory tract rather than the diaphragm to move air in and out of their lungs.

-Through mindful breathing, you can change our breathing pattern to put our body in relaxation mode.


Here are 4 simple deep breathing exercises to help you relax and fight stress which you can do anywhere sitting, standing or lying:

1 . Abdominal Breathing

-Most people breathe from the chest instead of the abdomen, making that change is key to deep breathing.

-After sitting comfortable in a straight backed chair, place one hand over your chest and one on your stomach.

-While you inhale through your nose, the hand on your stomach should rise while the hand on the chest moves very little.

-Exhale through your nose by contracting your abdominal muscles. The hand on your stomach should move down.You can also do this exercise lying down with your knees bent

2 . Breath Counting

-Sit with your spine straight and head inclined forward. Gently close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.

-Then let the breathing come naturally without consciously influencing it. If you are doing it correctly, the breath should come quiet and slow but depth and rhythm may vary. Try to do this for 10 minutes counting 1 for every exhalation.

-End a cycle at 5 and start again at 1. You will know your attention has wandered when you continue counting beyond 5.

3 . Morning Breathing

-This is best to relieve muscle stiffness of the mornings and can be used throughout the day for back tension.

-Bend forward from your waist in a standing position letting the arms dangle loosely on your sides.

-As you inhale slowly and deeply, return to a standing position by rolling up slowing, lifting your head last.

-Hold your breath for just a few seconds in this standing position. Exhale slowly as you return to the original position.

4 . Alternate Nostril Breathing

-This exercise is used to calm an anxious mind, clear thoughts and refocus. Sit cross legged on the floor for best results, if unable to do so, a straight back chair works as well.

-Position your right thumb and index finger over your nose, gently press down your right nostril with your thumb, and take a deep breath through your left nostril.

-At the end of the inhalation, bring down your index finger and close your left nostril.

-Count to 4, and release thumb from the right nostril and exhale from the right nostril.

-Count to 2 and now inhale from the right nostril, and at the end of the inhalation, close the right nostril, count to 4 and exhale from the left nostril.

-Alternate Nostril breathing can instantly boost your energy levels, so avoid it around bedtime

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-Be careful not to breathe too deeply or too fast. In you feel uncomfortable, just get back to your regular breathing pattern and try it again after some time.

-Remember that your body should feel relaxed after the exercise.

-Set aside one or two time slots (10-20 minutes)each day for deep breathing.

-Practice relaxation techniques while you’re doing other things. Try deep breathing while you’re doing housework or taking a break in office. You will be able to take on the next task with renewed energy and focus.

So, go ahead and try these simple breathing exercises and breathe your way to a stress free life. Stay Happy, Stay Healthy!

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