Focusing on your breath is an easy and effective way to reduce stress. Next time you start to feel anxious, try one of these two simple breathing exercises.
Uni-nostril breathing is breathing through one nostril at a time. Keep a box of tissues handy so that you can remove any blockages in your nasal passages. If you're prone to congestion, try jogging in place for a few minutes before you begin.
- Fold the middle three fingers of one hand down so that only your thumb and pinky are extended (this is the traditional way to practice, but if it feels awkward you can use your thumb and index finger instead).
- Close your right nostril by applying gentle pressure to the side of your nose.
- Breathe in through your left nostril.
- Close the left nostril with the same gentle pressure.
- Exhale through the right nostril.
- Inhale through the right nostril.
- Close the right nostril.
- Exhale through the left nostril.
- Continue the pattern for about 10 cycles of breath.
The idea behind uni-nostril breathing is that it works both the right and left hemispheres of the body and helps to bring them back into harmony. After you're finished, it should feel much easier to breathe fully through both nostrils.
Extended exhalation is a breathing exercise that you can use practically any time you need to relieve some anxiety, even in the car. The process is very simple.
- Breathe in for four counts.
- Breathe out for eight counts.
By exhaling longer than you inhale, you increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the bloodstream, which helps to relax the body's organs.
One of the best ways to relieve stress is to focus your concentration on your breath. Both uni-nostril breathing and extended exhalation are simple exercises that can help you do just that.