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Five breathing exercises to relieve stress easily

By Marilou LeBel-Dupuis – on in Health
Exercising your breathing can help you deal with stress, anxiety, anger and insomnia. Here are five of the most effective breathing exercices.

Breathing is the first and last thing we’ll ever do in our lives; we might as well learn to do it properly! These breathing exercises will help you relieve stress and anxiety, whether you do them on a daily basis or occasionally. Take a deep breath, and relax.

Equal breathing

Forme grandissante et rapetissante

This breathing practice is super simple: close your eyes—or not—, breathe in for 4 seconds, breathe out for another 4 seconds, and repeat during a set period of time. There you go! You can also use this GIF or a similar one to help you do this exercise.

4-7-8 breathing

This technique requires you to focus on your breathing and can help you relax, fall asleep or control your anger. Sitting or lying down, empty your lungs of air and breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds. Hold your breath for 7 seconds, and exhale through your mouth 8 seconds. Repeat this cycle 4 times.

If you can’t hold your breath that long, try a shorter pattern. For instance, try 3-5-6. As long as you keep the ratio, you’ll do just fine.

The Oxygen Advantage: Simple, Scientifically Proven Breathing Techniques to Help You Become Healthier, Slimmer, Faster, and Fitter
Patrick McKeown - Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks - Edition no. 0 (11/29/2016) - Broché: 368 pages

Breath focus

Woman meditating
Madison Lavern | Unsplash

For a more meditative breathing exercise, try this one—it’s a personal favourite. Close your eyes, and as you take a deep breath, imagine that you are filling up with a peaceful emotion. When you breathe out, imagine you are rejecting a negative emotion. Repeat as long as needed.

For example, if you are stressed out about a meeting, breathe in thinking: confidence, calmness, joy. Breathe out stress, doubt, fear. Repeat.

Guided meditation

If you prefer having someone guiding you through healthy breathing practices, don’t shy away from guided meditation. You can easily find them on apps or online.

Progressive muscle relaxation

This one is perfect to help you fall asleep or, well, relax. Lying down comfortably, you will tense each muscle group one at a time while taking deep breaths. Start with your feet: as you inhale, tense the muscles of your feet. When you exhale, release all the tension. Next, inhale while tensing your calves. Exhale and release. Basically, this is how you will work your way up your entire body.

Try doing one or more of these breathing exercises every day. This will help you deal with stress, anxiety and will generally speaking help you focus on important things.

Cover photo credit: Fabian Møller | Unsplash

Marilou LeBel-Dupuis

Marilou is a B.Ed. graduate who likes to do a lot of things, except teaching in Quebec. Her friends, writing, travelling and blueberry Red Bull make her happy.