Breathing techniques for stress
By Juliana Kassianos, Health and Wellbeing Therapist
Just as your breath is influenced by your thoughts and emotions, your thoughts and emotions are influenced by your breath. For example, when you’re anxious, worried and upset, your breathing becomes faster. If you then consciously slow your breathing down to a gentle wave-like pattern, you can soothe your nerves, settle your thoughts and calm yourself down.
The following are four breathing techniques to help you feel calm through lockdown. They work by lengthening the exhalation, which makes your parasympathetic nervous system become more engaged and active – part of the autonomic nervous system that turns of stress – helping you to feel relaxed.
It’s important to note that these should only be practiced if you’re feeling well and have no conditions that affect your breathing. When practicing them, if you start to feel dizzy or your breath becomes compromised at any point, stop straight away and return to the natural rhythm of your breath.
‘Four-seven-eight’ is a simple rhythmic breathing technique developed by Dr Andrew Weil, that promotes deep relaxation.
Repeat the cycle four times
Our nose is designed for breathing; it filters dirt, warms, and moistens the air before it reaches our lungs. ‘Alternate Nostril Breathing’ is breathing through one nostril at a time. This is what your body normally does, and you can observe it happening throughout the day.
The main benefit of this type of breathing is mental and it’s been described as ‘nature’s own sedative’ as it has a calming effect, bringing both the body and mind into a state of harmony and balance.
The ‘Humming Bee Breath’ resembles the humming vibrations of a bee that has a natural calming effect, helping to promote feelings of contentment and wellbeing.
The ‘Golden Thread Breath’ results in a lengthened exhalation that soothes the nervous system, leaving you feeling calm in both body and mind.