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Feeling more stressed than usual?
According to the American Psychological Association, nearly 70% of Americans have reported feeling increased stress over the course of the pandemic. With uncertainties over health, finances, and the future, it’s no surprise that these anxieties have compounded for most people in the past year.
Because of that, we could all use a little (or a lot of) relaxation. One place to start? Breathing exercises. They’re an effective, convenient, and versatile way to relieve stress and reduce the ill effects of chronic stress.
April is Stress Awareness Month, and we wanted to highlight some new techniques that can be used in addition to the previous breathing tips we’ve shared.
First, let’s review why deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in your body and mind.
Your whole body is affected by the way you breathe. When your breath is controlled and deep, it sends your brain a message to calm down and relax. That message also gets sent to the rest of your body, allowing it to regulate your heart rate, steady your breathing, and lower your blood pressure.
The ease and convenience of breathing exercises take down the barriers of incorporating them into your life. And they don’t require any special equipment or tools–just time and consistency.
Breathing Exercises to Try Today
1. Box Breathing
All you need for this technique is a comfortable chair that allows your feet to be flat on the floor. Then, closing your eyes, breathe in through your nose while slowly counting to four. Experience the feeling of the air entering your lungs and then hold that breath inside while slowly counting to four again. Make sure to keep your posture relaxed while holding the breath; don’t forcefully clamp your mouth or nose shut. Then, begin to slowly exhale for four seconds. Repeat those steps (inhale, hold, exhale, hold) at least three times, and if possible, continue for four minutes or until your body and mind are calm.
2. Tactical Breathing
This technique is best used when your fight-or-flight response is kicking in. Breathe in through your nose, counting 1,2,3,4. Stop and hold your breath, counting 1,2,3,4. Exhale, pulling your belly button toward your spine, counting 1,2,3,4. Practice this until you are comfortable with a full, deep breath and then repeat it making the exhale twice the length of the inhale this time.
3. Lion Breathing
This exercise has you imagine you’re a lion, which is a very powerful image for times when you’re feeling powerless or overwhelmed. Sit in a comfortable position in a chair or on the floor, if you prefer. Breathe in through your nose, filling your belly all the way up with air. When you can’t inhale any more, open your mouth as wide as you can, like a lion. Breathe out with a “HA” sound. Repeat as many times as necessary.
Breathing Quality Air
With all of this deep breathing, you want to be sure you’re taking in Healthy Air. That’s where Aprilaire can help.
Check out our blueprints for a Healthy Home. They include tips and easy changes that can improve the air quality of your home, making it even simpler to deal with stress in a clean, healthy environment.