Relaxing breathing techniques for Stress & Anxiety
Slow your breath
The lungs contain slow and fast stretch receptors. When you breathe slowly, the slow stretch receptors pick up this movement and send feedback to the nervous system that you are safe. After all, when you aren’t under threat you don’t need a fast supply of oxygen to fight or run! So the lesson here is simple: slow down your breathing until there is a gentle, gradual stream of breath entering and exiting your body.
This may seem overly simple, but so often we’re encouraged to take BIG breaths to calm down, an instruction that can make us suck in breath quickly.
Lengthen the exhale
- When you feel yourself getting stressed or anxious, still your body and notice the way you’re breathing
- Intentionally slow down the breath, maybe repeating the mantra “slow” on the inhale, and “down” on the exhale
- Take your inhales down into the belly, keeping your shoulders and chest heavy and relaxed
- Emphasise your exhales by making them longer than the inhales, and perhaps pursing the lips or making a “shhh” sound through your teeth
- Effects can be felt right away, but for deeper effects and long-term stress prevention, continue these techniques for 10-20 minutes on a regular basis