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Home > Patients & Visitors > Health Library > Stress Management: Breathing Exercises for Relaxation
Have you ever noticed how you breathe
when you feel relaxed? The next time you are relaxed, take a moment to notice
how your body feels. Or think about how you breathe when you first wake up in
the morning or just before you fall asleep. Breathing exercises can help you
relax, because they make your body feel like it does when you are already
Deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in
the body. This is because when you breathe deeply, it sends a message to your
brain to calm down and relax. The brain then sends this message to your body.
Those things that happen when you are stressed, such as increased heart rate,
fast breathing, and high blood pressure, all decrease as you breathe deeply to
The way you
breathe affects your whole body. Full, deep breathing is a good way to reduce
tension, feel relaxed, and reduce stress. When you are relaxed, your breathing
tends to be slow and gentle. It can be shallow or deep. One of the ways
breathing exercises help you feel relaxed is getting you to feel the way you do
when you are already relaxed.
There are different ways to breathe
to relax. The methods described here focus only on breathing exercises. Other
ways combine breathing with things like yoga, imagery, and meditation.
Breathing exercises are a good way to relax, reduce
tension, and relieve stress.
Breathing exercises can help you relax by
getting you to feel the way you do when you are already relaxed.
Continue to Why?
exercises may help you relax and feel better. When you are stressed, breathing
exercises have health benefits such as lowering blood pressure, slowing a fast
heart rate, making you sweat less, and helping with digestion.
Breathing exercises are easy to do. You can do
them on your own whenever you want. Breathing exercises don't take long to do
and don't cost money. And you don't need any special tools or equipment to do
You need an instructor to guide you when you do
You can do breathing exercises on your own.
They are easy to learn, and you don't need an instructor or any special tools
to do them.
Continue to How?
There are lots of
breathing exercises you can do to help relax. The first exercise below—belly
breathing—is simple to learn and easy to do. It's best to start there if you
have never done breathing exercises before. The other exercises are more
advanced. All of these exercises can help you relax and relieve stress.
Belly breathing is
easy to do and very relaxing. Try this basic exercise anytime you need to relax
or relieve stress.
have mastered belly breathing, you may want to try one of these more advanced
breathing exercises. Try all three, and see which one works best for
exercise also uses belly breathing to help you relax. You can do this exercise
either sitting or lying down.
Roll breathing helps you to develop full use of your lungs
and to focus on the rhythm of your breathing. You can do it in any position.
But while you are learning, it is best to lie on your back with your knees
Practice roll breathing daily for several weeks until you
can do it almost anywhere. You can use it as an instant relaxation tool anytime
you need one.
Caution: Some people get
dizzy the first few times they try roll breathing. If you begin to
breathe too fast or feel lightheaded, slow your
breathing. Get up slowly.
Try this exercise when you first get up in the morning to
relieve muscle stiffness and clear clogged breathing passages. Then use it
throughout the day to relieve back tension.
With roll breathing, you focus on the rhythm of your
breathing. You put one hand on your belly and the other on your chest as you
breathe in and out.
The object of roll breathing is to develop full
use of your lungs and focus on the rhythm of your breathing. You can do it in
any position. But while you are learning, it is best to lie on your back with
your knees bent.
Continue to Where?
Ready to try these breathing
exercises? You may find that one or more of them can help you relax.
If you want to try another relaxation technique,
Return to topic:
May 15, 2012
Patrice Burgess, MD - Family Medicine & Steven Locke, MD - Psychiatry
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