The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
If you are anything like me, you have tried quite nearly anything to relieve stress and clear your mind, but nothing seems to work. I have cut out caffeine, exercised and even tried to make time for myself to color in a coloring book whenever I felt overwhelmed.
This is not to say that eliminating caffeine, exercising and returning to simple hobbies do no good. I have found benefits in all of them. But when it comes to self-care, there is always the lingering fear that certain things might not be enough to eliminate the tension.
It can feel like no matter how many self-care nights you do, you still have an exam in that class you haven’t been to in weeks and you can’t get out of bed, and so the coloring book is forgotten and so is the gym.
Even so, new struggles bring new solutions. It’s important to find different ways to expel that stress, but one of the old solutions that often is overlooked is the practice of breathing exercises.
Many people who do not regularly practice their breathing can find that these exercises can cause an almost dizzy sensation, as you give your body access to more oxygen than it is used to.
Breathing is an accessible way for anyone to regain control over their body on the road to gaining control over their mind.
- Breath of Fire
This breathing technique serves to energize and improve your focus. I use this exercise upon waking up to try to keep myself from going back to sleep.
To do this breath, inhale through your nose softly and exhale through your nose forcefully, as you feel your abdominal muscles tighten as you exhale. You should notice the softness and force in your breath by only hearing the exhale as if you barely notice the inhale.
This breath is done quickly, and you can find more information on it here.
- Box Breathing / 4-4-4-4
Box Breathing is an easy technique to remember. Starting after you exhale the air out of your lungs, simply inhale for four seconds through your nose, hold for four, exhale for four seconds through your mouth, and hold again for four. Then you repeat.
Box Breathing creates a feeling of a cycle, giving equal attention to inhaling and exhaling between holding your breath.
For more on Box Breathing, click here.
- Pursed Lip Breathing
To do this breath, breathe in deeply through your nose for 2 seconds, then purse your lips like you would in order to blow out a candle and exhale slowly for 4 seconds. These second lengths can change, but the exhale is always double the inhale.
This is a good breath to use to slow down your breathing rate and catch your breath. Like Box Breathing, the counting is there to guide you.
You can find more information on the Pursed Lip technique here.
- Belly Breathing
The last breathing technique is exactly what it sounds like. To do this breath, you simply breathe in through your nose with a hand on your stomach and a hand on your chest. Breathe in until your stomach and chest are full of air, then exhale it all through pursed lips for a total of 4 seconds.
This breath is often used in meditation and is one of the simplest breaths used to relieve stress.
For more on Belly Breathing, click here.
Breath holds a lot of power over the body, and different exercises will benefit everyone in different ways. Sometimes, you just can’t afford the certain prices that stress relief takes, whether that be monetarily literal or just too much effort that you don’t have energy for.
The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, try giving some of these exercises a try!