breathing exercise

Photo: Adobe Stock

Just breathe: Three techniques to cope with stress and anxiety

Inhale, exhale…even political stalwart Hillary Clinton swears by it to reduce stress and promote general well-being.

breathing exercise

Photo: Adobe Stock

Whether its #lockdownblues or #mondayblues — everyone can use a little bit of relaxation these days. Luckily, these three easy breathing techniques are quick ways to cope with any stressful situation. All you have to do is take a comfortable seat and follow these simple instructions.

Alternate nostril breathing:

Have you ever wondered how Hillary Clinton recovered from her 2016 presidential loss? Well, along with chardonnay and long walks in the woods, Hillary confessed in her book What Happened? that alternate nostril breathing really did the trick.

This breathing technique has been said to improve focus, restore balance between the right and left hemispheres of the brain and of course provides instant relaxation.

To try it, all you have to do is:

  • Take a seat somewhere comfortable.
  • Bring your right hand up to your face and place your pointer and middle fingers between your eyebrows to anchor your hand.
  • Close your eyes and take one deep breath in and then slowly exhale.
  • Using your thumb lightly close your right nostril and slowly breathe in through your left nostril.
  • Before exhaling remove your thumb from your right nostril and place your ring finger on your left nostril.
  • Exhale through your right nostril.
  • Repeat this cycle five times.

4-7-8 Breathing:

Not only is 4-7-8 breathing a wonderful way to manage stress, but it has also been proved effective at improving migraine symptoms, reducing feelings of anxiety and helping individuals who experience insomnia.

How it works:

  • Start this technique by taking a seat and then clearing your lungs of air. Then focus on the following breathing pattern:
  • 4: Breathe in slowly through your nose for four seconds.
  • 7: Hold this breath for 7 seconds.
  • 8: Forcefully exhale your breath through your mouth making a “woosh” noise as you do so.
  • Repeat this cycle a few times.
  • For added relaxation, count each second of breathing out on your fingers.

Belly Breathing:

While “belly breathing” might sound a little bit silly, this technique has been shown to lower heart rates, blood pressure and to strengthen your diaphragm. More scientifically known as diaphragmatic breathing, belly breathing is an instant way to relieve stress.

To try it:

  • Sit comfortably or lie flat on either the floor or your bed.
  • Relaxing, place one hand on your chat and the other flat on your stomach.
  • Then, slowly breathe in through your nose for two seconds.
  • Focus on the feeling of the air moving through your nostrils and into your body. Pay close attention to your stomach expanding as the air fills your body.
  • Then pressing gently on your stomach slowly exhale for two seconds.
  • Remember to repeat this cycle five times.

And as always in the time of the coronavirus pandemic: Remember to wash your hands before trying any of these techniques!

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