How to Breathe Stress Away

Slow, deep breaths can tell your brain to slow down and relax.

Stress does a lot of things to your brain. It can make your thoughts race and can cause physical changes in your body. Not all stress is bad—small amounts of stress can actually improve performance, focus and motivation. But about 1 in 4 Americans say they deal with high amounts of stress, and long-term stress may increase the risk of developing high blood pressure, obesity and depression.

Thankfully, breathing exercises are a simple, effective way of relieving stress. Here are some breathing exercises you can do anywhere:

  1. Mindful Breathing
    Close your eyes and pay attention to your breathing. Notice how deep or shallow and how fast or slow you’re breathing. Focusing on your breath can help you recognize your body’s stress response and realize when you’re not taking full, deep breaths.

  2. Counted Breathing
    Slowly breathe in through your nose. Hold your breath and count down from five. Exhale slowly through your mouth and count down from five again. Then repeat as needed. Counting your breaths can also help you relax and recognize your body’s stress response.

  3. Deep, Cleansing Breathing
    Breathe in deep through your nose as much as you comfortably can. As you release it, focus on emptying your lungs—feel the stress exiting with it. Repeat a few times as needed.

If you’re looking for more ways to reduce stress, Standard and Basic Option members may be able to earn rewards after they complete the Blue Health Assessment and up to three eligible Online Health Coach goals (including stress management). You’ll receive $40 each eligible completed, up to three, for $120 total.

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