Breathing exercises to help with stress and anxiety

Stressed out? Anxious? Overwhelmed?

First of all… You need to know that YOU are in control. Life can be tough and you can’t control stressful situations. BUT you can control your response to them, raise your awareness of stress, take more time to relax and exercise and limit your exposure to stress causing chemicals. The first step and the most important is to recognise your symptoms of stress, don’t ignore it and allow your body to rest, recover and re-balance. Find whatever type of self-care and relaxation works for you. If your new to self-care and have trouble switching off and can’t remember the last time you were totally calm and relaxed, then maybe it’s time for you to try some reflexology or massage.

Here are some of my top tips to help you find some calm outside of the Studio. I will share my top tips over time, but first, we’ll start with the easiest method… working with your breath.

Breathing consciously.

Breathing consciously can be a really powerful act with many wonderful benefits. Conscious breathing exercises or pranayama are a huge part of yoga. Breathing exercises are one of the key tools us Complementary Therapists use –  particularly when working with clients who are experiencing high-stress levels/anxiety.

Focusing on the breath can bring you out of your head and into the present moment. Kate Brindle, author of Yang Sheng: The art of Chinese Self-Healing writes that deep breathing “immediately relaxes the body because it stimulates the vagus nerve, which runs from the neck to the abdomen and is in charge of the “fight or flight” reflex.

Also, a recent Havard Health Blog post also stated that stimulating this vagus nerve “activates your relaxation response, reducing your heart rate and blood pressure”.
Breathing deeply and consciously should never be underestimated… it’s powerful stuff!
I recommend you create a Youtube Account and save the videos below that work for you in a “self-care” playlist, so you have them to hand whenever you feel overwhelmed, anxious and stressed out. Once you learn the methods, you can do them pretty much anywhere!

4-7-8 METHOD

4-7-8 Method

Pioneered by Harvard-trained Dr Andrew Weill, this famous 4-7-8 method is described as a “natural tranquiliser for the nervous system” helping to quickly reduce tension, allowing the body to relax. I recommend practising this technique to my clients at the Studio regularly, especially to those with anxiety or those who have insomnia/trouble sleeping. There are a few instructional videos I use for clients, here are my favourites. Choose the one you resonate with most.

Dr Andrew Weil – How to perform the 4-7-8 method

If you prefer more of a visual aid, this video is so cool, I love it! Follow along easily –  Stop anxiety – the 4-7-8 method

Alternate Nostril Breathing

Alternate nostril breathing is my favourite technique, but find what suits you. Here’s a video on how to practice Alternate Nostril Breathing 

5-minute breathing meditation

Here’s a five-minute breathing meditation to help you instantly relax 
This video is suitable for total beginners, and you’ll be surprised at how much calmer you feel after the video.

Want a quick fix?

Here’s a 60-second relaxed breathing exercise. 
This won’t suit everyone, but this fun little video was developed by headache specialists at Children’s Mercy Hospital to help relax the mind and body. Its great for kids and adults! Follow along with the little fish and enjoy how much calmer you are after just 60 seconds! You need the sound on for the best experience.

P.s if you are a reflexology client of mine and receiving treatment for anxiety, high-stress levels and/or trouble sleeping, then I would have shown you how to work the Solar Plexus reflex point on your hand. Don’t forget to work/apply pressure to this reflex whilst you engage in deep, slow and conscious breathing for maximum effect.
If you’re new to Complementary Therapies and need some more help to switch off and relax, then book in for some relaxation and self-care today.