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About Breathing Exercises for Stress

by Heather Wilson
  • Overview

    We don't think much about breathing as we go full-blast through life. When stress takes over, our breathing becomes automatic and shallow. With a little mindfulness we can regulate our breathing and reduce stress through a variety of breathing exercises.
  • Significance

    Stress has negative effects on our physical and emotional well-being. According the the Mayo Clinic, symptoms can include: headache and back pain, heart and sleep problems, decreased immunity, anxiety, depression and social withdrawal.
  • Identification

    Breathing exercises run the gamut from simple deep belly or diaphragmatic breathing to slightly more complex techniques taught in yoga, meditation, Qigong or Tai chi classes.
  • Misconceptions

    Breathing exercises don't have to be complicated or time-consuming. Quiet deep breathing calms our autonomic nervous system, which slows the heart rate and reduces blood pressure.
  • Benefits

    Incorporating breathing exercises into our busy schedules can at least temporarily draw our focus away from the chaos of daily life. Deep breathing stimulates our parasympathetic nervous system, which triggers a relaxation response.
  • Prevention/Solution

    Make stress reduction with breathing exercises a daily priority. It can be as simple as carving five minutes out of the day to simply sit and breathe or making a commitment to enjoy a yoga class.

    References & Resources