One of the best tools you have in your arsenal for dealing with stress is your breath.
If you’re feeling a little overworked and majorly under-slept, you’re not alone, sugar. Balancing work, kids, relationships and a social life can get us all feeling a little frantic. But luckily, there’s no need to invest in a pricey massage or hit up an aromatherapy spa – because sometimes, the key to feeling calmer is just breathing it out. And you’ll be surprised at the magic a healthy pair of lungs can work.
Controlled breathing works wonders for your mental wellbeing, but it’s also able to lower blood pressure and help your body feel relaxed. That’s why so many experts preach about using our breath as a means of de-stressing and being more present and mindful.
No matter where you are or what time it is, these 5 simple breathing exercises are sure to help you unwind.
The Shoulder Pump
Taking up just a tiny five minutes of your time, shoulder pumping is an excellent way to bust feelings of stress – and, as a bonus perk, it’s also been known to energize. To perform the exercise, stand and close your fists. Then simply hold your breath and move your shoulders up and down, as quickly or slowly as you like. When you need to breathe, do so – and let go of your shoulders. Do this for five minutes.
- Equal Breathing
This breathing technique is all about balance. If you have trouble falling asleep because your mind is ticking along furiously, try this. To start, just inhale for a count of four, and then exhale for a count of four. Doing this will calm your nervous system and increase focus.
- Bubble Breath
This is perfect for those who sometimes feel a little anxious and overwhelmed by helping visualise positive and negative feelings. To perform it, simply sit down, close your eyes and breathe naturally. With every breath out, visualise a flow of dark bubbles leaving your body. These are meant to symbolize the stress and anxiety. When you breathe in, imagine a flow of gold bubbles coming into you – bringing with them peace and calm. Do this breathing exercise for as long it feels right to.
- Breath Counting
A ten minute exercise, breath counting will help relieve tensions. Sit up straight in a comfy position and close your eyes. Allow your breath to come naturally without forcing it, and then count to one in your head as you exhale. The next time you exhale, count to two, and then continue until you get to five. When you reach five, start over. This is meant to keep your focus on the breathing without letting your mind wander.
- Back-Home Breathing
Have trouble separating the stresses of work with the peace of home? Try this. Have a seat and close your eyes. Picture yourself leaving work and closing the door behind you, and watch your entire journey home. After that, see yourself come home and pay attention to the details – to putting the key in the lock, dropping your handbag on the table. Still in your mind, find your favorite spot in your house, and see yourself relaxing there. Enjoy feeling present.