You’re probably feeling a little stressed out these days, we know we are. 

We’ve talked a lot about mindfulness and meditation in our previous articles. Today, we wanted to take a step back and introduce a few simple breathing exercises that you can try anywhere, anytime.

These are designed for everyone from the seasoned yogi (not us) to the curious novice (definitely us!). 

Focus on your Exhale

Inhaling deeply may not always calm you down. Inhalation is closely associated with our fight-or-flight response; meaning that a deep breath in might inadvertently tell your body its time to GO. Exhaling is associated with the parasympathetic nervous system, which influences our body’s ability to relax and calm down. Try this exercise below: 

  • Before you take a big, deep breath, try a complete exhale first. Push all the air out of your lungs, then simply let your lungs do their job and inhale gently.
  • Next, try spending a little bit longer exhaling than you do inhaling. For example, try inhaling for four seconds, then exhale for six.
  • Repeat this for 2-5 minutes.

Belly Breathing

Technically it’s your diaphragm, but diaphragmatic breathing just doesn’t roll off the tongue very well. This type of breathing is the basis for almost all meditation and relaxation techniques. It can lower stress, reduce blood pressure, and regulate other bodily processes. 

  • Sit or lay down comfortably with one hand on your chest and one hand on your stomach, just above your belly button. 
  • Breathe in through your nose, focusing on letting your stomach rise while your chest remains still. 
  • As you exhale, try to engage your stomach muscles to push all of the air out of your lungs. 
  • Make sure there is a short pause between breaths. 
  • Practicing this for at least 10 minutes a day will help you breathe this way automatically!

Square Breathing

It’s cooler than it sounds. This form of breathwork is highly recommended by everyone from CEOs to sleep specialists. The idea is to keep the timing of your inhale, pause, exhale, pause all at the same length. 

  • Begin by slowly exhaling all of your air out.
  • Gently inhale through your nose to a slow count of 4.
  • Hold at the top of the breath for a count of 4.
  • Gently exhale through your mouth for a count of 4.
  • At the bottom of the breath, pause and hold for the count of 4.
  • If 4 seems too long or short, adjust the count as needed. This method works extremely well to combat anxiety. 

With practice, breathwork can dramatically alter your state of mind. Find an exercise that works for you and practice it daily!