There are many different ways to feel relaxed, from a full-body massage with essential oils to a getaway in the sun – but what if you need to feel calmer, like now? Simple, just breathe.
Utilising the power of our breath can help to lower blood pressure, promote a sense of relaxation and help us to de-stress. Many experts encourage those with anxiety to use the breath as a way of increasing awareness or mindfulness. Sometimes a couple of deep breaths will do the job in calming us down, but for those times when we need a little more support – try the following exercises:
1. Sama Vritti (equal breathing)
This exercise helps to bring balance back to the mind and body. Begin by inhaling for a count of four and then exhale for a count of four (all through the nose). Continue until you feel calmer. When you have this technique down, feel free to aim for six or eight counts, all the while focussing on a sensation of calm.
When to try this: This technique can be used anytime, however it works especially well before bed as the counting helps to distract your mind from racing.
2. Abdominal breathing
Place one hand on your chest and one hand on your belly – take a deep breath in through the nose and take the breath into the belly, not the chest. Aim for six to 10 deep, slow breaths per minute for 10 minutes a day to help reduce blood pressure and heart rate.
When to try this: This works well before a stressful event, so keep it in mind next time you have an event/presentation/interview/test looming.
3. Progressive relaxation
Helping to eliminate tension from head to toe, start this exercise by closing your eyes and focussing on tensing and relaxing each muscle group, one by one. Start at your feet and work your way up to your head – breathe in and hold while you tense and relax when you breathe out.
When to try this: Do this whenever you feel mentally and physically stressed, just be sure not to hold your breath for longer than you feel comfortable with – dizziness is not the aim.
If you are struggling to relax, you may want to consider hypnotherapy. To see how this therapy could help you reduce tension, please see our relaxation page.
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