Breathing exercises can be one of the most useful resources to tap into to help decrease stress and anxiety. We already take over 20,000 breaths a day, and it’s something you can do anywhere at any time. Learning how to become conscious of and control your breathing is a truly beneficial skill to improve your physical and mental health.
In our current society much of our stress is internally perpetuated, as well as chronic, meaning that this abnormal state in our body persists, instead of returning to optimal function or homeostasis. Reduced digestion, increased blood sugar and blood pressure can lead to weight gain and increased risk of serious chronic conditions. Using breathing techniques can actually help turn off the parasympathetic nervous system and the fight or flight response, reducing respiration rate, heart rate and blood pressure and inducing a state of calm.
Pursed Lip Breathing is a great technique to help reduce shortness and shallowness of breath. It forces you to slow your breathing pace, making each subsequent breath more effective in inducing relaxation. Its most beneficial in helping release trapped air in the lungs, keeping the airways open longer, and improving your breathing pattern by moving old air out of the lungs and allowing for new fresh air to enter. It’s an especially great technique to use during the difficult part of an activity such as lifting or climbing. As always remember to relax the tension in your jaw and neck and assume a comfortable position and stop breathing pattern if you feel any light-headedness or discomfort.