4 breathing exercises to instantly calm your stress

Louise Ballongue – Madame Figaro


4 breathing exercises to instantly calm your stress

2020 has been on a non-stop run since the first of January and many among us are experiencing stressful days, especially with the ongoing pandemic. If you’re regularly subject to stress, here are some breathing exercises that will calm you instantly.

Between the huge talk on announcing a new quarantine and the increasing number of infected people daily, you are constantly stressed and you can’t get rid of it. You might not be working enough on your breathing routine, which is essential in case of knot in the stomach. In order to do this, standing or sitting, it is essential to adopt a good posture: shoulders lowered, back straight and pelvis aligned.

Now all you have to do is practice some of the following exercises to lower tension levels and relieve stress.



Alternate breathing

Alternate breathing, or "Nâdi Shodhana Pranayama" in Sanskrit, consists of purifying our inner energies by learning to breathe through both nostrils. The benefits of this breathing method are better health, more stable nervous balance, and regenerative sleep and reduced tension. As a bonus, work allows you to get to know yourself better and to concentrate.

The exercise: Start by plugging the left nostril with the ring finger and exhale from the right nostril. Inhale from the same nostril, stop it with your thumb, and then exhale from the left. Repeat by inhaling with the left nostril, plug it with the ring finger then exhale from the right ... And so on, for a minute. Finish the exercise by exhaling slowly through both nostrils.


Cardiac coherence

This is a method of relaxation that involves controlling your heartbeat in order to better regulate your brain. It allows you to obtain a stable emotional state, by acting instantly on your tensions and by permanently reducing anxiety. This technique allows you to refocus on yourself, reduce stress and increase your intellectual capacities.

The Exercise: Use the “365” method, taken from the best-selling Heart Coherence 365, published by Dr. David O'Hare. Three times a day, take a five-minute break to practice this exercise. Get comfortable in a chair with your back straight, and breathe through your stomach six times per minute. Then, do this same exercise five times in a row until you reach five minutes. Several applications and videos on YouTube are also available to personalize your exercises and monitor your heart rate.





Abdominal breathing

Breathing is not only done through the nostrils but also through the stomach. Long forgotten, this part of the body can indeed radically improve your well-being, and provide life-saving benefits. By practicing "abdominal breathing" you will increase your respiratory amplitude by more than 70% (against 30% for chest breathing). This mechanism, favored by many opera singers, allows you to both better oxygenate your brain, boost your physical performance (better evacuation of toxins), and improve your overall well-being by reducing stress.

The Exercise: At the office or at home, sit in your chair and place your hands on your stomach. The objective is to feel the comings and goings of the latter. Breathe in for three seconds through your nose, gently inflating your stomach, block the air for three seconds, then breathe out slowly through your mouth, letting the stomach become flat again. Do that three times a day or more, if you feel the need to relax.



Breathing with projection

Visualization, combined with breathing, is a formidably effective method. The goal is to imagine, with half-closed or closed eyes, beneficial elements of your environment, while performing breathing exercises. You can therefore mentally imagine a pleasant object, memory, or sensation. The main thing is to immerse yourself in positive thinking.

The Exercise: Standing with your arms at your sides and eyes closed, breathe in for several seconds as you visualize joyous events or facts in your life. Then, breathe out through your mouth, diffusing this feeling of well-being to the whole body, and pushing away negative tensions. To be repeated three times in a row for a better well-being. The exercise can be done every morning, but also in the evening if needed.