Deep Breathing Exercises for Stress Relief
Deep breathing exercises are a simple and effective way to reduce stress. These breathing exercises promote relaxation, activate the relaxation response, and reduce stress.
Deep breathing has a number of benefits that extend beyond stress management.
Some of these include:
Here I provide two deep breathing techniques that I have found useful both as a stand-alone strategy to reduce stress and an accompaniment to other stress management techniques.
These deep breathing techniques are:
Deep breathing exercises: Five breaths to relaxation
Promote a state of relaxation and calmness with this deep breathing exercise.
Place your left hand over your navel and your right hand on your chest.
Take a couple of normal breaths.
Are both hands moving?
Hopefully your left hand moves as the diaphragmatic breathing fills your lungs with air.
Sitting in a comfortable position with your back straight and feet flat on the floor you are ready to begin.
Close your eyes and breathe normally for a few breaths.
Do you feel less stress and anxiety after this deep breathing exercise?
Practice this 5 times a day (about 15-20 minutes in total) and your body and mind will become more relaxed over the next few days.
Deep breathing exercises: The Quieting Reflex
This deep breathing technique is adapted from Dr Charles Stroebel, a psychologist and expert in stress management at Yale University.
When stressed, there are a number of physiological reactions that characterize the fight or flight response.
These include a number of warning signs of stress such as:
This deep breathing technique short-circuits the stress response.
With practice, Dr Stroebel says that the Quieting Reflex can relax you in 6 seconds.
The steps to his deep breathing exercise are:
The Quieting Reflex is done with your eyes open.
It only takes 6 seconds so practice at work, practice while you are waiting in line at the grocery store, or any other place.
I find that using reminders is a useful technique to get into the habit of practicing. I like to do the Quieting Reflex whenever my cell phone rings.
Several months of daily practice, up to 100 times a day (that’s only 10 minutes), the Quieting Reflex is recommended to counter the stress response.
The Quieting Reflex has been shown to be effective for:
Other deep breathing exercises that reduce stress include:
Search here for other breathing techniques
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