Using deep breathing techniques is a great way to reduce stress or anxiety. By focusing on your breath, you can take a break from the chatter of your mind and bring yourself into the present moment. When you focus on taking deeper breaths, you also help to soothe your body during times of stress by kick-starting our body’s ‘rest and digest’ system and reducing the effects of the fight or flight response.
Before beginning the breathing exercises, you may like to follow the guide below to set yourself up comfortably.
Here are the breathing techniques I follow to help me manage stress. Everybody is different, so try each one to find out what works for you.
The Point of Stillness
Start to notice the journey of each breath, moving in and out of your body. See if you can follow this journey for a little while. When it feels right, begin to focus on the pause at the end of each exhale (before the next inhale begins). There’s no need to alter the length of this pause – it may be very short, or it may be a little longer. This pause is also called The Point of Stillness, a small space of quiet and rest which we can learn to appreciate.
Place one hand on your stomach and one hand on your chest. Simply feel the movements as each breath inflates and deflates. You may like to deepen your breaths to maximise the oxygen intake and help facilitate the parasympathetic nervous system (your body’s ‘rest and digest’ mechanism that counteracts the fight or flight response). This is a particularly powerful breathing exercise to reduce stress.
The aim of this breathing exercise is to create an ocean sound in the back of your throat. Gently place your tongue on the roof of your mouth to slightly narrow your throat, but be careful not to tense up too much! You should still feel comfortable and relaxed. Begin to take deeper breaths and notice the ocean sound being created by your breathing.