Manage Stress with Deep Breathing

Manage Stress with Deep Breathing

Focusing on our breath in stressful situations is a simple way to calm our mind. Here's how you can get started...

We're no strangers to stress — whether we’re chasing the high of a new PR, or dealing with the daily stressors of life. But too often, we find ourselves holding our breath in tense situations, or breathing irregularly. Deep breathing in stressful situations is a relatively easy way to combat this, but we often overlook it in the heat of the moment.

Deep breathing can decrease stress and muscle tension , sharpen your focus , reduce fatigue , and promote stamina . Today, we’re breaking down why deep breathing counts, and how to manage your stress with your breath.

Deep Breathing 101

Deep breathing activates your parasympathetic system (A.K.A. the “ rest and digest ” system), which slows down your heart rate, calming your body. This relaxation response is key in stressful situations, since a calmer body increases your focus and leads to faster and higher quality decision making .

On top of that, deep breathing allows you to practice mindfulness by grounding yourself in the immediate moment. Taking a second to collect yourself and breathe allows you approach the source of stress with a fresh outlook, since you can remove yourself from, then return to, the situation.

Breathing to Reduce Stress

We’ll go out on a limb and say you probably already know how to take a few deep breaths. So instead, here are some tips on how to max out your breathing for focus, oxygen uptake and efficiency.

1. Pause for a minute

Take a step back from the stressful situation if possible. Give yourself a moment to recollect.

2. Breathe through both nostrils, then exhale through your mouth

Doing so helps regulate your respiratory system and boost your oxygen uptake throughout your body.

3. Begin a 5.5-second inhale and exhale cycle

Spending 5.5 seconds on an inhale and 5.5 seconds on an exhale is the most effective breathing cycle for humans .

The Bottom Line

The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious, take a minute to focus on your breathing. All it takes is a few seconds to create a world of difference.