COVID-19 related stress and anxiety?

Here are 5 breathing techniques to release your stress and feel calm.

The pandemic has been difficult for everyone. The spread of COVID-19 has taken a toll on our mental health. Consequential, we all are experiencing overwhelming feelings of stress and anxiety. Anxiety-related to job loss, loneliness, financial stress, loss of a loved one, uncertainty, and waiting for things to return to “normal”

This increased anxiety and stress has heightened despair, insomnia, depression, anxiousness among people. Which altogether is affecting physical and mental health. We have become lazier and lazier, procrastinating our work, our health, and our mental well-being. And, not to forget that we have become the couch potato sitting for hours and hours logging in, logging out of our social media account consuming information 24×7. If you can relate, you must take proactive action. 

One option is to channelize your energy in your body through meditation or yoga. “It’s not just about stretching and meditation. It’s about being kind to yourself and being mindful to yourself,” Both meditation and yoga are useful for treating a variety of medical and psychiatric disorders. As in yoga we tend to focus more on our breath, connecting our body and mind. It also generally enhance coping skills, a skill set we all need to strengthen. If your are a beginners and want to start your yoga journey, you can go and check my blog 9 Easy yoga poses for beginners.

When we are anxious, we take shorter breaths, and when we take shorter breaths, we become more anxious. Whatever stress you are dealing if you find yourself feeling anxious or taking shorter breaths, pause to breathe deeply and concentrate primarily on longer exhales. 

So here are few breathing techniques that might help reduce stress and make you feel composed. Find the right breathing technique for you and make it part of your routine to gain long-term benefits.

1. Deep breathing

Deep breathing exercise is something that you can begin to implement into your everyday routine. Whenever you feel anxious, take a pause and start breathing deeply. Taking a deep, full breath can slow the heartbeat and make a person feel calmer.

  • Sit in any comfortable position, relax your shoulders and start by inhaling deeply, filling your lungs and exhaling slowly. Keep your attention on your breath. Focus on how your chest and belly are expanding and contracting as you inhale and exhale.
  • Try doing this for two to five minutes. 
  • Try not to exhale in a jerky or forceful manner

2. Lengthen your exhale

This technique is somewhat similar to deep breathing, but in this we intend to spend more time on exhale by exhaling longer.

  • Before you start, try exhaling out pushing all the air out of your lungs, then simply let your lungs do the work by inhaling air.
  • Inhale till the count of four and exhale a little bit longer, say till the count of six. 
  • Try doing this for two to five minutes.

3. Diaphragm breathing 

(The diaphragm is a muscle located at the base of the lungs.)

Some people refer to Diaphragmatic breathing, as belly breathing. With this breathing, we bring our focus on our belly observing the rise and fall of your belly as you breathe. Diaphragmatic breathing is meant to help you use the diaphragm correctly which helps in strengthening the diaphragm, decrease the work of breathing by slowing your breathing rate and use less effort and energy to breathe.

  • Lie on the floor in a comfortable pose, keep your head, neck and shoulder relaxed.
  • Observe your breath for a few minutes lying down in a comfortable pose.
  • Now bend both your knees and cup your navel with one palm, focus on your breath. Feel the rise of your belly when you inhale and as exhale it falls. 
  • Try doing the exercise at least once in a day for up to 10 minutes.

4. Box breathing

Box breathing technique is a way to slow the breathing. It helps in reducing stress and improving focus.

  • Start by sitting in a comfortable posture which can be either sukhasana or vajrasana, rest the hand’s palm upward in the lap or on the knees and relax your body.
  • Breathe in through the nose for a count of four filling the lungs
  • Now hold the breath in the lungs for a count of four, 
  • Breathe out slowly through the mouth for a count of four, emptying the lungs fully. Wait for a count of four before breathing in again.
  • Try doing this for two to five minutes.

5. Equal breathing

This is a simple breathing technique where we equalize our breathing. Inhaling for the same amount of time as exhaling. As you inhale and exhale, be mindful of the feelings of fullness and emptiness in your lungs.

  • Sit in any comfortable pose, close your eyes and begin to notice your natural breath. Taking a few deep breaths in and out of your nose.
  • Begin to inhale slowly till the count of four fill your lungs with air, then slowly release the breath to the count of four.
  • Immediately start inhaling till the count of four and continue this pattern. You start noticing your breath gradually become deeper and calmer.  
  • Continue breathing this way for 5-7 minutes.

If you’re experiencing anxiety or panic attacks, try using one or more of these breathing techniques to see if they can alleviate your symptoms. You can also try my 10-minute stress-reducing & relaxation yoga flow

If your anxiety persists or gets worse, make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your symptoms and possible treatments.

You can start your regular yoga practice at home by doing my 7 days at-home yoga challenge. Get into the practice of yoga at the ease and comfort of your home.

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