We often forget that our breath is something we can control. In stressful situations, many of us respond by contracting our muscles leading to headaches and neck pain, decreasing the depth of our breaths, and increasing blood pressure and heart rate. By changing breath rate and the depth of our breaths, we can actually change our physiology and therefore the way we feel. Deeper and slower breathing allows our heart rate and blood pressure to slow down and for our muscles to relax. This is part of the reason why exercise (even if it’s not yoga) can be such a great stress reliever.
Feeling stressed? Try doing some daily deep breathing exercises (see below) to help settle the nerves. Do as many cycles as you feel necessary, but you will see that this takes literally a minute (or less) of your day! You can also try setting a daily alarm clock to remind you to take a few breaths amidst your busy day.
Relaxing Breath Exercise
- Plant both feet on the ground while sitting comfortably on a chair (or lie down comfortably), with your eyes closed or focused on the tip of your nose.
- Place both hands on your belly.
- Inhale through the nose for a count of 4, so that you can feel your belly rise (not your chest).
- Hold for a count of 4; then exhale for a count of 4 through your mouth.
- Repeat steps 3 and 4 for at least 4 cycles.
If you feel your anxiety or stress levels are starting to interfere with your daily functioning, it may be time to seek help!
All the best,
All the best,
Dr. Christine Cho, ND is a naturopathic doctor based in Pickering, Ontario and Richmond Hill, Ontario. She maintains a private practice focused in pain management and sports nutrition, in addition to a general family practice at Durham Natural Health Centre (DNHC). To learn more about Dr. Cho, click here. Not in the Durham Region? Contact her through AnAvocadoADay@gmail.com to learn about more options or for a referral to a ND closer to you.