Breathing exercises are really good for you mentally and physically. It’s found that we take up to 23,000 breaths per day so even doing 5 minutes of any breathing exercise as a daily practise will be beneficial as it will help us thrive rather than just surviving.
For example, when you’re overwhelmed or stressed your heart rate increases, your breathing becomes faster/shallower and your blood pressure rises. However, when you take deep breathes, focus on your breathing and relax they will reduce and go back to normal so you will feel relief as breathing affects the whole body.
Four-square breathing or box breathing is where you inhale for four seconds, hold it for four seconds, exhale for four seconds and finally hold for four seconds. This can be done sitting or laying down, it may also be helpful to trace a square with your finger as you each four second interval. This breathing technique helps improve your alertness and boosts your energy levels while also improving your daily focus.
The 4-7-8 technique can be done either laying or sitting down, but make sure you have good posture. Firstly, you should slightly part your lips so you can breathe out all the air in your lungs. As you’re doing this make a slight ‘swooshing’ sound. Then close your lips and put your tongue on the back of your front teeth. While doing this, breath in for four seconds, hold it for 7, then slightly part your lips and exhale for 8 seconds.
Do this for a minimum of 4 full breaths or repeat this for 5-10 minutes. This form of breathing helps replenish your body’s oxygen levels, calm your nerves and reduces stress as well as helping you focus and improving sleep.
Belly breathing or abdominal breathing is deep diaphragmatic breathing. Again, you can choose to either sit or lay down. You place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly and then as you’re breathing you feel your belly expanding and then go back down as you breath in and out. This should be done for 5-10 minutes.
This type of breathing helps to decrease heart rate and blood pressure as well as stimulating the vague nerve which helps us be present and reduce our fight, flight, freeze or fawn response during anxiety.
Most breathing exercises have shown to reduce anxiety, improve your sleep and relax you because you are lowering the stress in your body. Deep breathing sends a message to your brain saying to calm down because when you deep breath you’re participating in what your body naturally does when relaxed. By deep breathing for 20-30 minuets a day you will decrease anxiety and stress as you will be boosting the supply of oxygen to your brain which in turn will simulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which stimulates a sense of calmness.