Stressed? The way you breathe can change your day

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Breathe in, breathe out. It’s something we all do subconsciously every single day. But what
if this simple act could do even more for us than keeping our bodies going? What if breathing could help to lessen your stress?

We’re more stressed than ever and the feeling can be crippling, with almost 5 million Aussies suffering from stress and 60 per cent of Kiwis reporting they feel stressed at least once a week.

In this modern era of social media and the 24-hour mobile workplace, people use the words “busy” and “stressed” interchangeably—and stress is often worn like a badge of honour.

So, can taking a deep breath really reduce your stress levels? And if so, how?

Generally, when a person is stressed they take quick shallow breaths, sending a message to their nervous system to release a flood of stress hormones (like adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol).

On the other hand, taking slow and steady breaths signals to the brain that everything is okay, helping to calm the mind and reduce physical symptoms of stress.

The power of breathing has long been recognised as a helpful tool to promote calmness, with recent research highlighting the strong neurological connection between stress and breath.

So why not give it a try? We’ve compiled a few of our favourite and easy breathing techniques that will help you relieve stress today. Thankfully, these are techniques you can try at your desk, in the car or in the comfort of your home to help you unwind from a stressful day. Happy breathing!

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Try these breathing techniques today

Diaphragmatic breathing

  1. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your tummy while sitting or standing.
  2. Breathe in deeply and slowly through your nose, feeling air filling your belly (not your chest).
  3. Breathe out slowly through your lips.
  4. Keep breathing for 5-10 minutes.

Pursed lip breathing

  1. Breathe out for double the amount of time you inhale.
  2. Take a normal breath in through your nose for 2 counts.
  3. Pucker your lips and exhale for 4 counts.
  4. Repeat for a few rounds.

Teddy bear breathing

  1. Get your child to lie down with one hand on their chest and their favourite stuffed animal on their belly button.
  2. Ask them to close their eyes and relax.
  3. Encourage them to make the stuffed animal on their tummy rise— not their chest.
  4. After a full breath, hold it, count to 3, then ask them to breathe out.
  5. Repeat until they feel relaxed.
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