Stressful circumstances often stimulate a fight or flight response in people.
“Stress releases the hormone cortisol into our blood stream which raises heart beat, increases breathing and puts a tremendous amount of stress on our veins,” says Dr. Halland an owner of a vein clinic in NYC.
Unfortunately, long term stress can cause a myriad of health issues, so the best thing you can do when feeling stress is to keep breathing.
The first of the three breathing exercises you can use to relieve stress is simply to alternate your breathing through your nose and mouth. Basically, all that you do here is to inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. Inhaling through the nose brings in deeper oxygen to calm down your heart and pulse, and exhaling through the mouth lets you expel more carbon dioxide from the lungs. Feeling like you are ‘sighing’ in each exhale is also partially relaxing.
A second breathing exercise is to also be mindful of your breathing consciously, but do it all through your nose while counting. Inhaling through the nostrils while mentally counting from one to four, and then exhaling again through the nostrils while counting one to four again is how you do this one. You’ll likely find it’s impossible to get all the way to four on your first inhale, and it will likely take a few exhales to get to four on those. That’s okay. The point of this one is to slow down your breathing over a few minutes. When you slow down your breathing, you slow down your pulse and lower your blood pressure.
The third breathing exercise comes from yoga and is rather similar. It’s also in and out through the nose, but does not involve counting. Instead, just imagine that you are at the beach. Your inhales and exhales should sound like ocean waves crashing in and rolling out. This is called ‘victorious’ breathing.
Any of these three breathing exercises can help you relieve just enough stress to continue your day. Here’s a video that can offer you further insight on how to calm your stress and anxiety through breathing.