When we begin to feel stress, our minds and bodies begin searching for ways to fight off that stress through relaxation and distraction. For some, these moments of relaxation might include exercising, a massage or even watching TV.

But there is a much simpler way to manage stress that you can do anytime, anywhere: Breathing.

While breathing is an essential function of the body that happens automatically, it can also be controlled to help alleviate the symptoms of stress. In fact, there are scientific studies that prove the positive impact breathing can have in slowing our heart rates, stabilizing blood pressure and relaxing muscles.

As we encounter stress, our normal breathing patterns can change.  We begin to take short and shallow breaths using our shoulders instead of our diaphragm. Doing this not only interferes with the balance of gases in our bodies, but can also drag out feelings of stress and anxiety.

By taking a few minutes to focus on our breathing, we can greatly reduce those feelings of stress and get our bodies back to a normal rhythm.

There are several different breathing methods you can use to manage stress, but the most important thing is spending a few minutes to take control of your breathing. Simple deep breaths through the nose and out the mouth can help create a calmer breathing cadence. Those who have practiced yoga may be familiar with deep breathing exercises. Other breathing techniques include alternate nostril breathing and the 4-7-8 methods.

No matter which breathing method you use, your body and mind will thank you.  Controlled breathing helps to settle the nervous system and calm some of our body’s involuntary functions such as:

  •      Reducing the level of stress hormones
  •      Lowering heart rate
  •      Balance oxygen levels
  •      Increase energy levels
  •      Clear the mind of anxiety

The next time you feel a rush or stress or anxiety, take a minute to take a few deep breaths and breathe that stress away.