Although the holidays can be a magical time, they can also be a stressful time. Between all of the crowds, functions, and family dynamics, it’s common for many of us to start to feel a bit anxious this time of year. After struggling to manage my anxiety for many years, I’ve developed a long list of tools to keep my anxious feelings at bay. The tool I always go to first is my breath. The breath is the best tool we have for managing anxiety, simply because it is always at hand. By changing our breath, we can easily shift the way we are feeling. Here are my top 5 breathing exercises for stopping anxiety:
- Double the exhale – Practice exhaling out for a count twice as long as your in breath. Inhale for 4 counts and exhale for 8 counts, or inhale for 5 counts and exhale for 10, and so on. This helps to slow down your breathing, which immediately sends your brain signals to relax.
Count your breaths – This is a very simple practice. Bring your attention to your breath and start counting each breath that your body naturally takes. Keep track of your breaths on each exhale (Count: inhale-exhale-1, inhale-exhale-2, inhale-exhale-3, etc.). See if you can make it to 10 breaths without your mind drifting off to another thought. If you find that your mind wavers, go back and start from the beginning.
5-5-5 breath – Breathe in for 5 counts, hold for 5, and exhale for 5. Do 4 rounds of this exercise, and you will be feeling better in just one minute.This is a good exercise to bring balance to the body.
Breath of fire – This is a kundalini yoga breath that helps to shift your energy immediately. With your mouth closed, start to take quick, audible deep breaths in and out of your nose, almost like a bunny breath. Make sure that your breath extends all the way down into your stomach, and extend your belly outward as you inhale, and move your navel point inward on each exhale.
Cooling yogic breath – make an “o” shape with your mouth and take deep breaths in through your mouth, then exhale through your nose. This exercise is great for increasing patience, or quite literally helping you to “keep your cool” when you feel angry.
Remembering to breathe is key to staying calm in stressful situations. Keep in mind that your breath is always available to you. Use it to help you beat stress and anxiety. I hope you find these breathing exercises helpful!
Do you have any go-to breathing exercises, or other stress management tools that you often use? Please share in the comments below!
Wishing you a relaxing week.