Whether we are spending hours in front of a computer, scrolling online or taking call after call, as we juggle deadlines and rush to meet expectations, our jaws and shoulders tighten, our breath becomes shallow and worry and stress can build up. Deep breathing, by which we mean taking in enough oxygen and releasing that used carbon dioxide – is key for clarity and can help boosts energy levels and improve stamina, but so often we forget to do it.
Award-winning PR and life coach Natalie Trice is hand to share some of her tops breathing exercises in the hope it will help you to refocus at a time when so much is up in the air.
The abdominal breathing technique, or tummy breathing as my ten-year-old son calls it, is really helpful if you are feeling stressed out and worried.
How to do it: put one hand on your chest and the other on your tummy. Take a deep breath in through your nose, allowing your diaphragm to take in enough air to create a slight stretching sensation in your lungs, and then slowly exhale.
Taking in just six to ten deep, slow breaths per minute for 10 minutes can help you to get some downtime so you feel calm and can regroup. Keep going with this long term and the benefits could help you feel your best you.
This comes from the practice of pranayama yoga which helps people learn how to gain control over their breath.
How to do it: sit down, close your eyes and gently press the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth, which should be slightly open, and pay attention to the way you normally breathe for several breaths. Then when you’re ready, slowly count 1-2-3-4 as you inhale through your nose. Then, exhale for 1-2-3-4, and repeat. Be aware of the feelings of fullness and emptiness in your lungs as you repeat for 4 full breaths and work your way up to 8 overtime.
Doing this for just five minutes can help you to take some time out, refocus and ground yourself again, and it can also be a great way to drift off to sleep at night.
Breath focus technique
I love this deep breathing technique because of the use of words and phrases. I suggest choosing a word that makes you smile, feel relaxed, or soothes you, so you can slow down. This could be happy, calm, peace, let go it go, or relax, but it is personal so use words or phrases that you can naturally repeat during your practice.
To do it: sit down, close your eyes, then bring your awareness to your breath, trying not to change how you’re breathing. Then, put one hand below your tummy button, keeping your tummy relaxed, and feel it rises as you inhale and falls as you exhale. Go onto combining deep breathing with your focus words or phrases and feel how the air you inhale brings you time out. For example, say, “I am inhaling happiness and love” and as you breathe out, say, “I am exhaling anxiety and stress.”
Starting with five-minutes of this and gradually increase to ten minutes and see how that helps you to recharge and refocus. At the heart of this, is that our breathing can help with stress, frustration, and worry, so if you can start to love the way you breathe, you may well find life gets a little bit easier too.