12 Breathing Exercises to Reduce Stress

12 Breathing Exercises to Reduce Stress

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Breathing exercises are a simple and accessible way to help you reduce your stress. Most of us don't even realize how shallow we breathe when we are stressed or caught up in our day-to-day flurry. We take our breathing for granted... something that just happens without us even thinking about it. But did you know that changing your breathing pattern can make immediate changes in your heartrate, blood pressure and your stress hormones?

Take a few moments for yourself. Pause. And focus on your breath and try these breathing exercises. Find out which works best for you!

1. Triangle breathing

Breathe in through your nose for a count of four, hold for a count of four, breathe out through your nose for a count of four.  Repeat.
 

2. Square breathing

Breathe in through your nose for a count of four, hold for a count of four, breathe out through your nose for a count of four, pause for a count of four.  Repeat.
 

3. Balloon breathing

Imagine you have 2 balloons in your chest and you inflate them with your inhale through your nose.  When you're able to fully inflate the 2 balloons, imagine you have 4.  Continue increasing the number of balloons after you have fully inflated them.
 

4. Count to 10

Take a deep breath through your nose as you count to 10.
 

5. FIve-second breathing

Watch a clock and inhale for 5 seconds and exhale for 5 seconds.  Continue for 1 minute then go back to normal breathing.
 

6. Count down from 10

Take a full belly breath in through your nose and after you exhale, count 10. Count backwards from 10 with each exhalation.
 

7.  Extended exhale breathing

Inhale through your nose for a count of four seconds, hold for a count of four and exhale through pursed lips for a count of eight seconds.
 

8. Bhramari breathing

Take a deep breath in through the nose and breathe out while humming so you sound  like a bumble bee.
 

9. Alternate nostril breathing  

Cover your left nostril with your left thumb and breathe in through your right nostril.  Cover your right nostril with your left ring finger and release your thumb as you exhale through your left nostril.  Inhale through your left nostril.  Cover your left nostril with your left thumb and  release your ring finger as you exhale through your right nostril.  Repeat several times.
 

10. Light imagery breathing

Imagine yourself bathed in a white, healing light.  As you inhale, imagine your body fill with this white light.  As you exhale, imagine all your negative thoughts, emotions, pain etc seep out of your body and be washed away by the light.
 

11. Pulsed breathing

Inhale through the nose and exhale through pursed lips in bursts following the rhythm short, short, long.  Repeat.
 

12. Hands on abdomen

Place your hands on your tummy with your finger tips pointing towards each other and just touching at your centre line.  As you inhale, notice your hands expand apart as your belly lifts them up and out.  As you exhale, notice your hands come back together.

You will find different breathing exercises will suit different times of day. Hands on abdomen breathing is a great one to incorporate into your bedtime routine. If you suffer from indigestion and tend to eat fairly quickly, try the five-second breathing exercise a few times before you start eating. 

 
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