Breathing for Stress
Updated: Oct 17, 2018
These days, if you're at all normal (sadly), you probably have a job or lifestyle that includes high amounts of stress and low amounts of self care incorporated in your day to day life. That's part of the reason why I do what I do with my health and mindset coaching, to help remind people to look inside every once and a while and really, tell our minds and body that things are not as bad as they seem.
One of the ways to do that is through breathing!
Breathing is huge. Breathing practices have been shown in many studies to reduce anxiety, improve focus, reduce inflammation and stress in many study participants. And the good news about breathing, is that it costs no money to incorporate whatsoever and really, only takes about 5-10 minutes of your day.
Here's some breathing practices that I hope you find helpful!
1.) Box breathing.
Box breathing is a practice that was originally developed for navy seals in high stress situations, and is one of my favorite go to's, especially during a long day of work. To do box breathing, you simply start by doing a big breathe out, close your eyes, and begin breathing in for 4 seconds, hold for 4, breathe out for 4, and hold for 4. I typically do this for about 5 minutes, but you can do whatever feels good!
Love this video from bulletproof on box breathing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1g5Ol25y9Xs
2.) Soft belly breathing.
To practice soft belly breathing, place your hands on your belly, thumbs at the navel and fingertips below. Allow the belly to expand under your fingertips on the inhale and contract on the exhale. Envision an ocean wave: The belly expands on the inhale – the wave rises; the navel contracts on the exhale – the wave returns to the ocean. If you aren’t getting any movement, press your fingertips gently into your belly so you know it’s contracting on the exhale. Release the press on the inhale. As the expansion and contraction become more natural, focus on keeping a rhythmic breathing pattern, where the inhale and exhale are equal.
Got this one from IIN, my school.
3.) Wim Hof breathing!
I find Wim Hof (and the research backing his techniques) to be quite impressive. He's known mostly for his breathing methods and being a large case study on the benefits of what's called "cold thermogenesis", and while you don't have to do the crazy things he's done to be healthy, his breathing is something a lot of us can benefit from. I do this typically in the morning, and I'll let him do the talking regarding the simple method.
Hope these practices help you well! Keep in mind that we are all our own unique individuals and different things work for different people. I also am not suggesting that these replace your medications or that this is at all replacing medical advice, rather, I am suggesting that these may just be a great aid in the common goal many of us share in reducing stress and anxiety in our lives.
For further learning, check out this Trinity College Dublin study on breathing: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/05/180510101254.htm