The workday can be long and stressful, and nobody likes sitting at a desk for hours on end. But there are simple techniques you can do to reduce your stress and increase your focus, all without even getting up from your chair. Try one or all of these five simple breathing exercises to help improve your workday and brighten your mood.
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Belly Breathing Exercises
For this exercise, sit up straight and place one hand on your chest and one on your stomach. As you breathe in through your nose, you should notice that the hand on your stomach rises as you inhale while the hand on your chest does not move. Exhale through your mouth, pushing slightly on your stomach as you do so. You should feel yourself begin to relax after a couple times, but continue to take breaths for as long as you need. Once you feel you have mastered belly breathing, there are two slightly harder variations that you can try.
Roll Breathing Exercises
For this variation, complete about eight repetitions of belly breathing on its own. On the ninth repetition, start taking deeper breaths so that your lungs are filled to capacity. You should notice that the hand on your chest rises along with the hand on your stomach. When you breathe out, try and make an audible noise as you exhale and make sure that both of your hands move back towards your body. Repeat for about five minutes, or until you feel yourself begin to relax.
Deep Muscle Relaxation
This variation of belly breathing is time-consuming, but does help you relax certain problem areas that might be bothering you. If a muscle group is bothering you, focus on stretching out that muscle group simultaneously with your belly breathing in order to maximize your comfort and relaxation.
This exercise requires you to take the same position as belly breathing, with one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest. Inhale for four seconds, feeling your stomach move as you do so. You should then hold your breath for seven seconds. Finally, breathe out for eight seconds, trying to make as little noise as possible. Your lungs should be completely emptied of air at the end of the eight seconds. Repeat the exercise as needed.
The bellows breath is also known as the stimulating breath, and helps you increase your energy and alertness throughout the workday. It can be slightly noisy, so be aware of that if there are people near you. This exercise requires you to breathe in and out only through your nose, keeping your mouth closed and relaxed. Breathe in and out as quickly as possible, aiming for three breaths per second. When you first start out with this exercise, do not do it for more than fifteen seconds. As you get more comfortable, you can slowly increase your time until you reach a full minute.
For this exercise sit up so that your spine is straight, and tilt your head very slightly forward. Breathe slowly so that your breathing falls into a slow and natural rhythm. Then start the exercise. You will count in your head during each exhale and hold the exhale for the length of the count. First count to one, then to two, until you are counting to five during the exhale. After you reach five, circle back to one again. Try to do this for ten minutes, counting only as you exhale and never any higher than five.
Morning Breathing Exercises
Morning breathing should, as its name suggests, be done early in the day. It also requires you to stand up and move a little bit, so should be done before work if you don’t want your coworkers to stare. First, stand up straight and bend your knees slightly. Bend at the waist towards the floor, making sure your arms are hanging limply. Take a deep breath in as you stand up, making sure that your head is the last thing to come up. As you exhale, stretch your body out before returning to your original position.
Take your mindfulness a step further with these zen methods!