Looking to reduce stress? Breathe!
I always leave my yoga class feeling relaxed and de-stressed no matter what has been going on before I arrive. Reading my copy of The Stress Solution by Dr Rangan Chatterjee, I am now understanding more why this is.
In yoga we practice while breathing in and out through our nose. According to Dr Chatterjee’s book, “breathing through the nose, as opposed to the mouth, is more efficient and results in an increase of oxygen in our blood vessels by as much as 10%”. It also promotes better brain function, and widens blood vessels thereby improving blood pressure.
Some benefits of nose breathing:
· Improved mood and mental state
· Increased thrive-state activity
· Better quality sleep
· Improved oxygen intake into the blood
· Better oxygen delivery to cells
· Lower stress levels
We’ve all experiences those feelings of stress when your pulse increases, you start to breathe more rapidly and you feel generally overwhelmed. Operating under these physical conditions for prolonged periods of time has been shown to be detrimental to your health in all sorts of ways including high blood pressure, hormonal imbalances, digestive issues, and increased likelihood of anxiety.
One way to combat feelings of stress is to take time out of your day to practice breathing exercises.
Here are a couple you could try:
Very simply, breathe in for a count of 3, hold your breath for a count of 4 and then breathe out for a count of 5. Repeat slowly for as long as you can.
Alternate Nostril Breathing
Sit comfortably, block your right nostril by pressing it with your thumb. Fully exhale through your left nostril and then breathe in through the left nostril for a count of 4. Now block your left nostril with your ring and little finger, release your thumb and breathe out of your right nostril and then in again. This is one cycle. Repeat this for 10 cycles, increasing cycles as you get used to it.
Building these exercises into your daily routines can help you gain control over stress and panic. Use them also at particularly stressful moments at work or home. Stepping away for five minutes and focusing on your breath could have a huge impact on your stress levels and when you return to the task at hand you may find you are more productive for taking a break.
There are loads more ideas and areas of stress relief in the book. If you suffer from stress, I would definitely recommend it.