6 Breathing Techniques for Relieving Stress
Scientific American offers remedies for daily anxiety
Scientific American reported Jan. 15 that these commonly used breathing techniques, with regular practice, can lower many individuals’ daily anxiety levels.
1. Stand up straight. Posture is important for breathing. Hold yourself straight, without stiffness, shoulders back, sitting or standing. This posture facilitates free play of the respiratory muscles (of the diaphragm and between the ribs).
2. Follow your breath*. Simply observe your respiratory movements. Be aware of each inhalation and exhalation. Focus on the sensations you feel as air passes through your nose and throat, or on the movements of your chest and belly. When you feel your thoughts drift, which is natural, redirect your attention to your breath.
3. Abdominal breathing. Breathe “through your stomach” as much as possible. Start by inflating your belly by inhaling, as if to fill it with air, then swell your chest; as you exhale, first “empty” your stomach, then your chest.
4. Rhythmic breathing. Near the end of each inhalation, pause briefly while mentally counting “1, 2, 3” and holding the air before exhaling. This counting while not breathing can also be done after exhaling or between each inhalation or exhalation. It is often recommended for anxious patients to calm anxiety attacks.
5. Alternate nostrils*. Breathe in and out slowly through one nostril, holding the other one closed using your finger; then reverse and continue by alternating regularly. Research suggests that what is most important, aside from slowing the breathing rhythm, is breathing through the nose, which is somewhat more soothing than breathing through your mouth.
6. Think reassuring thoughts while breathing. With each breath, think soothing thoughts (“I am inhaling calm”). With each exhalation, imagine that you are expelling your fears and worries (“I am exhaling stress”).
Learn more at scientificamerican.com.