Take a deep breath
Congratulations! You have just taken your first breathing exercise. Breathing is something we all take for granted, we do it every day without even thinking about it. But we should. The benefits will take your breath away. By learning various breathing techniques, you can reduce stress levels in your body, lower your heart rate and even lower your blood pressure. And that’s just for starters.
As you have gathered, the benefits of better breathing are both physical and emotional. There are a vast number of methods and techniques to improve your breathing, it all depends on your own personal preferences and how far you would like to go. Many of these exercises you can easily do by yourself, others you need the guidance of a trained professional. So, take another deep breath, let’s move on to the first breathing technique.
Box breathing. Box breathing?
It sounds a little strange doesn’t it. However, strange as it may sound, it’s used by many athletes, nurses and people with highly stressful jobs. Box breathing, also known as resetting your breath, can heighten your performance and increase your concentration. It’s also a powerful stress reliever. So, how does it work? Well, it’s not difficult, you can do it anywhere. Follow these simple steps:
- Close your eyes. Then breathe in through your nose while slowly counting to four. Feel the air entering your lungs.
- Now, hold your breath, while again slowly counting to four. Try to avoid inhaling or exhaling.
- It’s time to exhale slowly, also for four seconds.
- That’s it!
The idea is to repeat the above three steps at least three times. It might be a little challenging at the beginning, then try just counting to three. When you get used to it, you can try counting to six. Ideally you learn to repeat these three steps for four minutes, when you feel totally calm and at ease.
Dragon breathing is a metaphor for how you might be feeling. Those moments when you are burning with anger, extremely anxious or very negative. Dragon breathing is how you calm down and release all the unwanted negative energy. It’s also a very good exercise for children, who have not yet learned to control their emotions.
- Sit comfortably on a chair or on the floor.
- Now, place both your hands on your stomach.
- Breathe in through your nose.
- Breathe out through your mouth forcefully and fully, while whispering a (dragon’s) roar.
The idea is that you repeat these steps up to six times. Try to make the exhale longer than the inhale to trigger a relaxation response.
4, 7, 8 Method
Having trouble sleeping? Try this breathing technique developed by Dr Andrew Well. It’s very simple. Inhale to the count of four, hold your breath till you’ve counted to seven and exhale to eight. Repeat until… zzz.
Some people find “mindful” a bit of a “New Age” word. Put that thought aside for a minute, because mindful breathing can be very calming. You don’t have to do anything else other than be aware of your breathing and focus on it. By doing this you will notice that you start to breathe more slowly. Also, how your breathing moves through your mouth, nose and lungs. Taking the time to think about something you usually don’t think about, stimulates your mind and brings you to new thoughts and ideas. Improving your mental well-being.
Kleenex and Mind
As the specialists in soft tissues for almost 100 years, Kleenex knows a bit about comforting blocked up noses and helping people worldwide breathe more easily. We’ve also learned how breathing exercises and techniques can improve your mental health. We believe your mental health is just as important as your physical health, which is why we recently launched our new “Take a Moment Collection Cubes”, in aid of mental health charity, Mind. The cubes are colourfully designed, with thoughts and poems to inspire you to stop and take a moment for your own mental well-being.