On Your Mind

Breathe Easy: 3 Exercises for Stress Relief

By Gabi Powell

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We don’t give breathing a lot of thought, mostly because we don’t have to! As an involuntary function, our lungs don’t need us giving them inhale-exhale commands all the live-long day. Which is why it seems odd (and TBH, a tad bit irritating) when in moments of stress, the advice given? Just breathe. (Just breathe?!?!)

But what if there is some truth to this just-breathe business? Because let’s face it: we’re stressed and stress can take a toll on our health, Betties. April is Stress Awareness Month, so let’s take a look at the breath + stress connection and different techniques to breathe your way back to calm.

The Breath + Stress Connection

When we’re stressed, our bodies go into “fight-or-flight” mode. Mindful breathing works to calm + combat stress in the body by:
🔋 Activating the Relaxation Response: Deep n’ slow breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which houses the body’s relaxation response. This response can counter the physiological symptoms of stress – lowering your heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol levels.
🫁 Increasing Oxygen Levels: Deeper breaths equals more oxygen. And more oxygen equals more of that 02 goodness gets to the brain and other organs to help a Betty feel more alert, energized, and focused.
🧘 Reducing Tension: Have you noticed that stress often goes hand-in-hand with a sore jaw or neck tightness, tensed-up shoulders? UGH. Deep breathing can help loosen up those muscles and release tension.

So now that you know all body-bennies of breathing, ~how~ do put them to work? We rounded up three, simple exercises to try your hand, (or lungs)at to help bring you back to your breath.




How it works:
1. First, get comfy – you can either stay seated or lie down.
2. Place one hand on your belly and the other hand on your chest.
3. Inhale deeply through your nose, allowing your belly to expand as you breathe in.
4. Exhale slowly through your mouth, allowing your belly to lower as you breathe out.
5. Repeat, aiming for at least 5-10 minutes.

what it looks like:

@the.blackbird.house Breath work for anxiety and panic attacks with Continua! Classes bi-weekly at the blackbird house! #diaphragmaticbreathing #anxietyattack ♬ Get You The Moon – Kina




How it works:
1. Inhale deeply for four counts.
2. Exhale for four counts.
3. Now hold for four counts.
4. Repeat.
5. Continue this 4-4-4 sequence until you feel more relaxed.
what it looks like:
@emilymeditates Make this your stress superpower 🦸🏻‍♀️ do it now, save for later, share with a friend! #boxedbreathing #breathworkforstress #breathworkforhealing #stresstip #breathworkforbeginners #stresstips #nervoussystemregulation ♬ Ты и Я – TikTok Remix – Mooney Tunes & yeanix




How it works:
1. Get in a comfortable sitting position with a straight spine.
2. Place your right thumb over your right nostril.
3. Inhale deeply through your left nostril.
4. At the end of your inhale, close off your left nostril with your ring finger, and exhale through your right nostril.
5. Keeping your left nostril closed, inhale through your right nostril.
6. At the end of your inhale, close your right nostril with your thumb, and exhale through your left nostril.
7. This completes one cycle. Continue for several rounds, alternating the nostrils with each inhale and exhale.
what it looks like:
@courthayes4 one of my favorites for anxiety, repeat 6-8 times 🧘🏼‍♀️ #alternatenostrilbreathing #breathingtechniques #breathingexercises #anxietytips #panicattacksolutions ♬ original sound – Courtney Hayes


We don’t give breath a lot of thought, Betties, but maybe we should! Mindful breathing isn’t a magical eraser that’ll squeegee out the stress. But these techniques are powerful tools you can access anywhere at any time to help deal with stressors.



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