Don’t wait until fight or flight kicks in before minding your breath. Controlled breathing not only keeps the mind and body functioning at their best, it can also lower blood pressure, promote feelings of calm and relaxation and help us de-stress.
From the confines of a bed, a desk or anyplace where negativity finds its way, consider these six breathing techniques to help keep calm and carry on.
How it’s done: With one hand on the chest and the other on the belly, take a deep breath in through the nose, ensuring the diaphragm (not the chest) inflates with enough air to create a stretch in the lungs.
The goal: Six to 10 deep, slow breaths per minute for 10 minutes each day to experience immediate reductions to heart rate and blood pressure, breathing expert Dr. Alison McConnell says. Keep at it for six to eight weeks, and those benefits might stick around even longer.
When it works best: Before an exam, or any stressful event. But keep in mind, “Those who operate in a stressed state all the time might be a little shocked how hard it is to control the breath,” Pacheco says. To help train the breath, consider biofeedback tools such as McConnell’s Breathe Strong app, which can help users pace their breathing wherever they are.
Level of difficulty: Beginner
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