It’s the most wonderful time of the year… ding dong ding dong… Although most of us love Christmas, we don’t love all the stress around it these days. Parents (in law) visiting, old family discussions that are back on the table, not fitting in your Christmas dress ;-) Stress can really build up. So what can you do?
The answer is quite simple. In fact, you might not even believe it when I tell you about the fastest, cheapest, and easiest way to relax. Are you ready? Here it is –
Sounds crazy, right? But science has proven time and time again that the simple act of mindful breathing can lower your heart rate.
So, here are 3 easy, stress-relieving breathing exercises to try.
And the best thing about them … you can do them anywhere – at work, sitting in traffic, at the airport, or in the comfort of your own home.
Not only can these types of breathing exercises help you de-stress, but they’ll also ensure your body works well, your mind stays clearer, and they’ll give you a feeling of groundedness and calm.
1. abdominal breathing
Put your right hand on your chest and your left hand on your belly.
Inhale deeply through your nose, making sure your diaphragm inflates – as opposed to your chest. Inhale deeply enough to stretch your lungs.
Repeat this 7 – 10 times per minute for a couple of minutes (3-6). You’ll notice your heart rate drop immediately, and your blood pressure should too. In fact, if you can make this exercise a daily practice, you might be able to reach a level of greater relaxation than you expected – for the long haul.
This one’s simple and can help promote relaxation. This exercise can take you to your favorite beach with rolling waves, your secret forest hideaway, or any place you can recall or imagine. It’s my personal favorite.
Focus on a lovely, peaceful image.
Breathe deeply in your own time.
Let these joyful images coax negative thoughts from your brain.
Visualizing is an easy way to go where you want to go. We all have the capacity to imagine. It’s easy to let go of making it a regular practice, because the realities of life replace your childhood ability to feel free and simply make believe. But, there’s a reason your brain is capable of pretending … and this superpower can be used to your relaxing advantage.
3. alternating nostril breathing
This one is a little bit more advanced than the others, but it’s meant to bring balance, calm, and peacefulness to your mind – supposedly creating harmony between the left and right sides of your brain.
Sit with your legs crossed on the floor.
Block your right nostril with your right thumb and breathe deeply through your left nostril.
When you reach the depth of your inhale, when you think you can’t take in any more air, block your left nostril and exhale through your right nostril. (Sounds complicated I know, but if you practice a few times, you’ll get the hang of it.)
Repeat the pattern, starting with the left nostril and the left thumb, and switching to the right on the exhale.
This exercise is meant to help you awaken your mind or focus. So, hopefully it can lead to better productivity if you happen to be at work or if you’re trying to accomplish a certain task.
Be aware that some people do experience a slight dizziness when starting to work in a focused way with their breath. If that happens, simply stop, regain your normal breath, and try again.
And remember, these three easy breathing exercises can help arm you against the stresses of christmas, especially when things seem to feel like a bit too much. And the best news is, you can do them anywhere, anytime, and for as long as you need!