Breathing Techniques Guaranteed To Help You ‘Switch Off’
Can't get the sound of keyboard keys tapping out of your head? Or that constant background noise from the day? Not to mention that 'to-do' list you just can't stop thinking about!
Detaching your mind from work at the end of a long day can be hard, especially if you're just trying to relax and prepare for bedtime.
Connecting with your breath, mind and body is one simple way of doing this - it takes time and practise, but calming your breathing will in turn calm your mind and help to eliminate mental chatter.
Taking five minutes to do this at the start, middle (if you need time out from the office) or end of every day can really help to balance your state of mind and clear your head before bedtime.
Try the first two breathing tips for five minutes and, if you have time, then do all three.
Find a quiet space and begin to let go...
Sit in a cross legged position, or on a chair with your feet flat on the floor (if you're at home, perhaps lie down on the floor instead!) Turn your palms to face upwards. If you are seated, take a deep breath in, lengthen your spine and roll your shoulders back. Turn your face to look upwards slightly. Close your eyes. Relax your face. Relax your shoulders. Relax your body.
- Move your attention onto your breath. Take a deep breath in through the nose and exhale from the mouth with a sigh (as loudly or quietly as you want - it's time to let it out.)
- Imagine that with each exhalation, you are letting go of all the tension from the body. Breathe in as much as possible to completely fill up your lungs and let the stomach rise, then exhale through the mouth.
- Do this five to ten times, paying attention to your body and how you feel.
- Sit still for a moment and focus on inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth.
Equalise your breath - reduce your stress levels with this 'wave' like breath
Scientific studies have shown that by equalising your breath it helps to lower the adrenaline levels in your body. This 'wave' like breath will relax your mind and body and help to lower your stress levels. Close your eyes to eliminate distractions and just focus inward on yourself again.
- Move your focus to your nostrils. Inhale through your nose for a count of four using your full lung capacity and letting your stomach fill up and rise outwards. When you exhale completely expel all the air from your lungs through your mouth.
- Feel the release of any tightness and all tension from the body. Allow a tiny moment of 'nothingness' before you inhale again. Focus only on the breath and yourself. Repeat this for three to five minutes.
Lengthen your exhalations...tap into your parasympathetic nervous system
Exhaling for longer means you are activating the vagus nerve, which runs from the neck all the way down into the diaphragm. This sends a signal to your parasympathetic nervous system, which controls your rest, relax and digest response. When this is dominant, your heart rate slows, your blood pressure lowers and you are put into a calmer state.
Try this ‘two-to-one’ breathing technique to help to calm your mind.
- Starting from your seated position. Move your attention onto your nostrils.
- Inhale for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of one and exhale completely for a count of eight. Try this for a minute and notice how you feel. Repeat a few times if you need to and try it again a few times in the week.
All of these breathing exercises take practise, but with time it will become easier and you will feel the benefits. Make them a part of your daily routine and take the first step to maintaining wellbeing!
Please note, we recommend that you consult with a doctor if you feel dizzy or lightheaded or have asthma.
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