Over and over, we hear how breathing exercises can help us reduce anxiety, decrease stress, and remain calm. We may even know that there is science behind the phrase “take a breath.” But how often do we try to find a breathing exercise only to get lost in a sea of yoga-speak and techniques that take so long to get the hang of that they are no good to us in an emergency?
Don’t get me wrong, a solid breathing practice can keep you calm no matter what comes your way, but if you are not there yet, what do you do when faced with anxiety-inducing situations that pop up unexpectedly? What you need are fast, easy breathing exercises explained in plain language so that you learn them in just a few minutes.
1. Diaphragmatic Breathing
Diaphragmatic breathing is one of the best breathing techniques for stress management. This deep-breathing technique ensures you are trading oxygen for carbon dioxide with every breath. This helps slow your heartbeat and stabilize your blood pressure, helping you calm down and ease stress.
This exercise can be done sitting or standing, which makes it a great one to do any time you’re feeling stressed. Start by taking a deep breath through your nose, abdomen rising on the inhale. Exhale, noticing that your belly returns to its normal position.
2. 4-7-8- Breathing
Also known as relaxing breathing, the 4-7-8 breathing technique is perfect for relieving stress and anxiety. This 5-minute breathing exercise is easy to fit into your daily routine or practice on the fly. You breathe in for the count of four, hold for seven, and exhale for eight. Repeat up to four times.
3. 4-6 Breathing
Breathing intentionally gives your mind a chance to regroup, take in information, and process events before you react, or worse, overreact. This simple technique can be done sitting or standing. Inhale deeply for 4 seconds, exhale for six. Taking a moment to practice the 4-6 breathing technique gives your mind a chance to retreat from feelings of stress or anxiety.
4. Moon Breathing
When you are stressed and anxious, you may have trouble sleeping, so the moon breathing is an excellent technique to learn. This breathing exercise can slow your thoughts, center your mind, relax your body, and make it easier to get better sleep.
Begin by releasing any tension you may be feeling, press your right nostril closed and breathe in through your left nostril. Hold your breath for a beat or two. Then close your left nostril and open your right on to breath out. Continue until you feel relaxed and at ease.
5. Mindful Breathing
Making mindful breathing a part of your daily routine can help calm your emotions, release physical tension, and give you energy and focus. You can practice mindful breathing for as little as 2 minutes or up to ten minutes or longer. It seems simple, but you begin by just breathing. Tap into the power of a meditation mantra or count your breaths.
6. Breathing Fresh Air
Sometimes it’s not how you are breathing, but where. Essential for our health and well-being, breathing fresh air can help us feel better. Taking a quick walk outside for a breath of fresh air may give you more energy, help you feel more relaxed, boost your immune system, and more. And it’s easy. Just take a quick walk outside the next time you feel tired, stressed, or anxious.
A Note from GR8NESS
Breathing exercises are great for calming the mind, body, and spirit. Some of these take a little practice, but most are pretty simple to master. The more you do them, the better you’ll get at doing them, and the easier it will be for you to remain calm during times of stress. To learn more about every stage of fitness read out our complete body care guide.