Pause for a moment and take a deep breath in through your nose, and out through your mouth. Close your eyes and repeat this two more times, focusing on slow and controlled breaths.
Sometimes in our pursuit of health and wellness, it can be easy to overcomplicate things. But something as simple as setting aside a few moments to focus on your breath can help ease stress, improve concentration and calm anxious feelings.
Here are three types of breathing exercises to try over the next week. See which one feels the best for you and try setting aside just four or five minutes every day to practice. If you have asthma, COPD, or any heart or lung concerns, please be sure to check with your doctor before trying any breathing exercises.
Diaphragmatic or belly breathing – Lie on a comfortable, flat surface, placing one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest. Slowly inhale through your nose, feeling your hand on your stomach gently rise with your breath. Exhale slowly through pursed lips and repeat. The hand on your stomach should slowly rise and fall with each breath while the hand on your chest should remain mostly still.
Alternate nostril breathing – Be sure to wash your hands before this exercise, since you’ll be touching your face. To begin, use your right-hand thumb to close your right nostril. Inhale deeply through your left nostril, then close your left nostril with your pinky or ring finger, open your right nostril, and exhale through this side. Inhale deeply through your right nostril, close this nostril, then exhale through your left nostril. This is one round. Continue for two or three full rounds, making sure to end with an exhale on the left side.
Box breathing – Each phase of this four-part breathing exercise is equal, just like a square box with each side an equal length. Close your eyes and take a deep inhale through your nose for three seconds. Hold your breath for three seconds, then exhale through your mouth for three seconds, and hold your breath for three seconds. This is one full round. Repeat for two or three full rounds. You may find this technique tricky at first.
Remember that if your body isn’t comfortable with something, skip it. Even paying just a little more attention to your breathing can be beneficial and calming.
For more ways to keep calm and care for yourself, get started with these 12 days of self-care.