Feeling stressed during this pandemic? Here are some free ways to relieve yourself.

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With the current pandemic plaguing the entire world, it’s no surprise that everyone everywhere is feeling more stress than we ever did before. But here is one technique you would have never guessed that would help with relieving stress; breathing.

With these breathing techniques and tactics, you’ll be able to master breathing to relax in no time.

Do you ever feel pressed for time? Have you been increasingly concerned about the current global pandemic? If that’s the case, relaxed breathing can help. COVID-19 has become a significant source of stress in the lives of more than three-quarters of Americans (78 percent), according to the American Psychological Society. The good news is that soothing breathing techniques used in yoga and meditation have been shown to reduce stress and calm the mind.

Are there benefits to relaxing from just breathing?

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Now I know the title seems a little sceptical to some, and I wouldn’t blame you if you feel that way. Suddenly finding out that what you are doing for free all the time whether you are sleeping or awake could help u relieve some stress seems too good to be true. Going into this research I also felt the same way, but to my surprise, I have found that there are ample amounts of benefits from using breathing techniques to relax.

To start off, breathing to relax isn’t a new concept. Initially intended to prepare the body for meditation, yoga and mindfulness practitioners felt that focusing on the breath could help to relax the mind by providing something for the brain to focus on. Modern study at Emory University School of Medicine has now corroborated these early beliefs, confirming that slow deep breathing is beneficial in the treatment of anxiety and depression. Breathing for relaxation has a physiological effect because it is so effective at soothing the system. Even short-term slow breathing strategies can lower your resting heart rate and blood pressure, according to a review of existing studies published in the American Journal of Cardiology.

So, what’s the connection between your breathing and your mood? When you’re stressed, your breathing becomes shallower and faster. This is because your sympathetic nervous system (SNS), one of three branches of your autonomic nervous system, has been triggered by your brain. The SNS, often known as the fight or flight response, tells your body’s systems to defend you against imagined threats. Slow, conscious breathing, on the other hand, activates the PNS, or parasympathetic nervous system, which is the second branch of your autonomic nervous system. Rest and digest mode is another name for the PNS. After a threat has passed, this mechanism puts your body in its usual resting condition, lowering breathing and heart rate and limiting blood flow to the muscles. The specific mechanisms for this are unknown, but according to the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, one explanation for how slow breathing affects the PNS is that it activates the vagus nerve. It is the longest cranial nerve in the body, carrying approximately 75% of PNS nerve fibres, influencing heart rate and respiration, and, most significantly, balancing your nervous system.

How to do it?

Below are some ways to help you get started on your journey to a healthier you.

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Learning to take deep heavy breaths.

Learn how to manage your breathing with a full yogic breath before moving on to the particular exercises below. Place your hands on your lower belly and focus your breath on the area beneath your fingertips as you inhale, allowing your stomach to gently rise and fall as you inhale and exhale. Place your hands on the sides of your ribs after a few minutes and focus on expanding your rib cage towards your fingers as you inhale, then feeling it sink back within as you exhale. Finally, rest one hand on your upper chest, just above your breastbone, and breathe just into your chest.

Slow and steady wins the race.

According to MedlinePlus, normal breathing rates range from eight to sixteen breaths per minute, however the benefits of slow breathing often pertain to less than ten breaths per minute, with six breaths per minute being particularly advantageous. Breathing at this rate, according to research published in the journal Hypertension, lowers blood pressure and calms the fight or flight reaction. Each breath cycle (one intake, one exhale) will take roughly 10 seconds to breathe six times each minute.

Paused Breathing.

If you suffer from feeling anxiousness, pausing after you exhale and before your next inhalation has been proven in the journal Psychophysiology to reduce heart rate and improve heart-rate variability (a measurement of the variation in time between your heartbeats), both of which are signs of relaxation. Rather than hurrying to take your next in-breath once you’ve fully exhaled, actively relax your shoulders, chest, and abdomen and take a short pause before inhaling again.

Breath Counting

Counting one’s breath has been practised in mindfulness traditions for millennia, and new research published in Frontiers in Psychology indicates that it is linked to improved mood and focus. Close your eyes softly to give it a try. Allow your breath to settle, then begin counting by silently repeating ‘in, one’ on your inhale and ‘out, one’ on your exhale when you feel ready. Reps ‘in, two,’ ‘out, two’ on your next breath. Continue in this manner until you reach ten, then reset to one.

Zack Yong is a content writer under Headliner by Newswav, a programme where content creators get to tell their unique stories through articles and at the same time monetize their content within the Newswav app.
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Zack Yong
Author: Zack Yong

Fulltime learning software engineering. Part time Freelance Writer.