Need a simple way to handle stress... better? Try one of these three deep breathing exercises. They'll help you feel more in control over how you experience your experiences. So you can live, love, and heal better. You deserve that much. This is your life, after all.
Stress in a Nutshell
Stress activates your sympathetic nervous system, releasing hormones in the body that spark the “fight or flight” response, which helps you respond to a perceived threat with urgency.
This can save your life in dire situations, like when you need to jump out of the way of an oncoming vehicle.
It’s when stress becomes an everyday, moment-to-moment experience — a way of living — that it's detrimental to your quality of life. And that's no fun.
These deep breathing exercises are simple tools you can use every single day to prevent and release stress when it starts to bubble up. So you can live the life *you* most want to live.
“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.” – Amit Ray
3 Practical Deep Breathing Exercises to Help You Handle Stress Better
1. Pause F.O.R. Peace
This is simplicity at its finest. No matter what you’re facing, you can pause, even if only for 10 seconds. Actually, the very point of this exercise is that you use just a tiny moment to reconnect with the present moment, and how you DO want to feel.
The “F.O.R.” stands for:
- FOCUS on one, long, deep breath. Inhale deeply, feeling your diaphragm and belly expand (not your chest). Exhale through your nose or mouth for the same count, or longer. Be fully conscious of this breath.
- OBSERVE your mind. Does it wander during this breath? It’s okay if it does. Where does it go? Can you try again to be right here, right now?
- REFOCUS if you need to, bringing your mind back to your breath. If your mind wanders, just acknowledge this without judgment, and return to one deep breath.
Pausing for a few conscious breaths gives your head a chance to catch up with the emotion. The purpose of this exercise is to simply be aware of how you’re being, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing.
"In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you." – Deepak Chopra
2. Equal Breathing
Known as Sama Vritti in Sanskrit, “sama” means even, smooth, flat, equal or same; “vritti” means fluctuations or modifications. This deep breathing exercise focuses on equalizing the breath as a way to smooth the fluctuating mind.
There really are only two things you need to do to feel the balancing effect of this exercise:
- Inhale through the nose for a count of four.
- Exhale through the nose for a count of four.
You can work your way up to a count of six or eight as you become more practiced. Just breath for equal counts through the nose. Use it during the day or at nighttime to promote better sleep.
This technique is a gentle yet powerful way to calm the nervous system, repel stress, and enhance awareness.
3. Progressive Relaxation
This is a deep breathing technique you can employ when you have a little more time (but you still don’t need more than a few minutes), and the ability to close your eyes. You can effectively practice this technique lying down, sitting, or standing.
- Close your eyes.
- Focus intently on each body part, one at a time, from your toes working your way up to your eyes — calves, knees, thighs, butt, stomach, back, chest, neck, arms and hands.
- Breathe deeply through the nose and tense each muscle group, one at a time. Hold the tension for three to five seconds per muscle group.
- Breathe out slowly through the mouth and relax the tensed muscle group. Slowly release for three to five seconds, or longer.
If you're uncomfortable or lightheaded holding the breath, hold for a lesser count.
When life gets confusing, the answer lies within the rest you take between two deep breaths.
. . .
When during your day could you use one of these practices?
Tell me in the comments. I read every single one, and I'd love to know!
P.S. Need to stop taking stress to bed with you? Get my book Sleep Rituals for 100 at-home practices that are all about you + the present moment. You’ll have meditations, breathing exercises, and so many other tools you can use anytime. To feel better. Lighter. Free to live your way.