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3 Deep Breathing Exercises for Stress and Anxiety: Tools, Tips and Benefits

Using breathing techniques not only reduces feelings of anxiety and stress, but can also help to keep our lungs healthy and oxygenate our bodies. In the current uncertain times and under the new government guidelines of self-isolation and social distancing, it has become even more important to look after our well being. I’ve put together some tools and tips, and three deep breathing exercises for de-stressing and explained the benefits of these breathing techniques.

Deep Breathing, Diaphragm Breathing and Alternate Nostril Breathing, are the three breathing techniques I have regularly used over the years with clients, to relax both the body and the mind, to reduce anxiety and stress, and to generally enhance their sense of well being.

I find that first thing in the morning is a good time to practice these breathing techniques, especially if you experience anxiety that builds up during the day or last thing at night, or if you are suffering with racing thoughts around your head, preventing deep restorative sleeping.

I would recommend to try and perform these breathing techniques at least once a day. Use the tool you feel most comfortable with and all can be performed lying down, if you do not want sit in a chair. Over time, you can develop your practice of the breathing techniques from 5mins to 15mins a day, to help reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety, improve your lung health and enhance your sense of well being.

Deep Breathing
Deep Breathing helps to relieve shortness of breath by preventing air from getting trapped in your lungs and helping you to breathe in more fresh air. This is a good technique to practice while out for a walk and helps you to feel more relaxed.

  • While standing or sitting, draw your elbows back slightly to allow your chest to expand.

  • Take a deep inhalation through your nose.

  • Retain your breath for a count of 5.

  • Slowly release your breath by exhaling through your nose.

Diaphragm Breathing

  • Sit comfortably – upright with your back supported by a cushion, your knees bent and your shoulders, head and neck relaxed.

  • Place one hand just below your rib cage on your stomach – this will allow you to feel your diaphragm move as you breathe.

  • Breathe in slowly through your nose for the count of 1,2,3,4, so that your rib cage rises and your stomach moves out against your hand. Try not to lift your chest, it should remain as still as possible.

  • Tighten your stomach muscles, letting them fall inward as you exhale through your slightly opened mouth, to the count of 4,3,2,1.

Alternate Nostril Breathing

  • Lift up your right hand toward your nose, pressing your first and middle fingers down toward your palm, covering the nostril and leaving your other fingers extended.

  • Inhale and exhale to the count of 4, four times.

  • Repeat this process on the left side for four times.

  • This is one cycle.

  • Continue this breathing pattern for up to 5 minutes.

  • Finish your session with an exhale on the left side.

See my previous blog post to find out more tips about how breathing exercises can reduce stress and anxiety, whilst helping to keep your lungs healthy.

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