Since breathing is usually an unconscious, involuntary process it is normal to take breathing for granted. However, in times of high stress it is common for your breathing to become shallow and erratic as part of your body’s fight or flight response. Conversely, research has shown that deep, full breathing can help with the body’s relaxation response in both the short and long term.
Here are some different breathing techniques to try in times of high stress.
Simple conscious breathing exercise
Take a few moments to sit quietly and be conscious of your breathing. Focus on the time you spend inhaling and exhaling. Notice if you are breathing in and our through your nose or mouth. Just being aware of your breathing can help you slow down your breath and in turn slow down you heart rate which can help anxious or stressful thoughts fade away.
Sit or lay comfortably with one hand on your abdomen right below your rib cage and the other on your chest. Next, slowly take a deep breath in through your nose and feel your lungscompletely filling up with oxygen. You should notice the hand on your belly rise while the hand on your chest stays as still as possible. Finally, exhale slowly through your mouth which tightening your core to bring your belly button to your spine, this should lower the hand on your belly again. Repeat for a few minutes every day. This technique will help you increase the amount of oxygen you’re taking in to help you feel relaxed and focused.
Pursed lip breathing
If you’re feeling short of breath during stressful situations this technique can help increase the amount of oxygen you are taking in to help calm your breathing. With your mouth closed slowly breath in through your nose for a count of two. Purse your lips and slowly exhale all the oxygen in your lungs for a count of five through your mouth as if you are blowing out a candle. Repeat until you feel your breathing calm.
If you still feel like your stress level and breathing could use some work join Elaine in April at her weekly Mech Yoga classes.
Dr. Livia Chiarelli
Doctor of Chiropractic
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