Stress Management: Breathing Exercises for Relaxation
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Have you ever noticed how you breathe when you feel relaxed? The next time you are relaxed, take a moment to notice how your body feels. Or think about how you breathe when you first wake up in the morning or just before you fall asleep. Breathing exercises can help you relax, because they make your body feel like it does when you are already relaxed.
Deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in the body. This is because when you breathe deeply, it sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax. The brain then sends this message to your body. Those things that happen when you are stressed, such as increased heart rate, fast breathing, and high blood pressure, all decrease as you breathe deeply to relax.
The way you breathe affects your whole body. Full, deep breathing is a good way to reduce tension, feel relaxed, and reduce stress. When you are relaxed, your breathing tends to be slow and gentle. It can be shallow or deep. One of the ways breathing exercises help you feel relaxed is getting you to feel the way you do when you are already relaxed.
There are different ways to breathe to relax. The methods described here focus only on breathing exercises. Other ways combine breathing with things like yoga, imagery, and meditation.
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Breathing exercises are a good way to relax, reduce tension, and relieve stress.
Breathing exercises may help you relax and feel better. When you are stressed, breathing exercises have health benefits such as lowering blood pressure, slowing a fast heart rate, making you sweat less, and helping with digestion.
Breathing exercises are easy to do. You can do them on your own whenever you want. Breathing exercises don't take long to do and don't cost money. And you don't need any special tools or equipment to do breathing exercises.
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You need an instructor to guide you when you do breathing exercises.
There are lots of breathing exercises you can do to help relax. The first exercise below—belly breathing—is simple to learn and easy to do. It's best to start there if you have never done breathing exercises before. The other exercises are more advanced. All of these exercises can help you relax and relieve stress.
Belly breathing is easy to do and very relaxing. Try this basic exercise anytime you need to relax or relieve stress.
After you have mastered belly breathing, you may want to try one of these more advanced breathing exercises. Try all three, and see which one works best for you:
This exercise also uses belly breathing to help you relax. You can do this exercise either sitting or lying down.
Roll breathing helps you to develop full use of your lungs and to focus on the rhythm of your breathing. You can do it in any position. But while you are learning, it is best to lie on your back with your knees bent.
Practice roll breathing daily for several weeks until you can do it almost anywhere. You can use it as an instant relaxation tool anytime you need one.
Caution: Some people get dizzy the first few times they try roll breathing. If you begin to breathe too fast or feel lightheaded, slow your breathing. Get up slowly.
Try this exercise when you first get up in the morning to relieve muscle stiffness and clear clogged breathing passages. Then use it throughout the day to relieve back tension.
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With roll breathing, you focus on the rhythm of your breathing. You put one hand on your belly and the other on your chest as you breathe in and out.
Ready to try these breathing exercises? You may find that one or more of them can help you relax.
If you want to try another relaxation technique, see:
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