By Sophia Bennet
You may not realize it, but you have round-the-clock access to the world’s most powerful anti-stress treatment: Breathing.
Countless studies have confirmed that breathing exercises help to calm anxiety and refresh your brain, so why not try it? We have put together a list of the most effective breathing techniques to keep your mind clear and your day on track.
- Belly breathing
Start by sitting upright or lying flat on your back, then place one hand on your abdomen between your ribs and belly button, and the other on your chest; breathe in through your nose, slowly and deeply, while allowing your belly to expand under your hand. Breathe out through your mouth as though blowing out a candle as your belly relaxes. Your chest shouldn’t move throughout this exercise.
- Box breathing
Sit on a comfortable chair, maintaining an upright, relaxed posture. With hands resting on your lap or the arms of the chair, breathe in for four seconds, hold for four seconds, breathe out for four seconds, and hold for four seconds before beginning your next inhalation. Keep your shoulders and chest relaxed throughout the exercise.
- Lion’s breath
Sit on a chair or on the floor in an upright position, with relaxed shoulders and spine straight. Breathe in deeply through your nostrils, then breathe out through your mouth, opening it as wide as you can and expelling your breath with a “HA”, before repeating the exercise.
- Mindfulness breathing
Mindfulness has been around for thousands of years, and it can reduce stress, lift mood, and improve memory capabilities. There are many ways of practicing mindfulness, one of which is through breathing meditation.
Sit on a chair or on the floor to begin. You can lie down, but the goal is to increase breath awareness, not fall asleep—which can happen easily when you are meditating. Breathe in through your nose slowly, and then out through your mouth. You shouldn’t force your breaths to be painfully long or deep, but just as slow as you find comfortable.
As you inhale and exhale, concentrate on the feeling of the air flowing in through your nostrils and gently out through your mouth. Try to focus on the feeling, and when your mind wanders, bring it back to the breath.
- 4-7-8 breathing
Sit or lie down and position your hands the same as with belly breathing: one on your belly and the other on your chest. Inhale to the count of four, then hold it for the count of seven, and exhale to the count of eight, emptying your lungs completely. You may pause for a second before inhaling again and repeat as many times as is necessary.
Whether we’re working out or just waking up, we all breathe. But we don’t all master breathing techniques that make us feel stronger, happier, and healthier. Try these tips for a few weeks and see how they benefit you.