How to Reduce Stress with Deep Breathing Exercises
So many of us live very busy lives. We move from place to place, task to task, squeezing in time to exercise and play with our children or walk our dog. When we are busy, so are our minds, and often stress accumulates.
As a busy Toronto RMT, stress is the number one complaint I get from my clients. Massage therapy Toronto is great for so many reasons, and the list is endless, but a huge benefit is that it gets my clients to slow down and take time for themselves and therefore reduces stress. Unfortunately, most people can’t get a massage every day so I am going to show you an easy breathing technique that you can do daily.
Day to day, most adults use less than 20% of their lung capacity and when we’re stressed, that decreases even more. The diaphragm is the primary breathing muscle, but most of us breathe into our upper chests, recruiting many muscles not intended to be used for breathing at rest. This can be a large contributor to neck pain and tension.
Deep diaphragmatic breathing is a breathing exercise I teach many of my clients. It’s easy, you don’t need anything in order to do it, and you can do it anywhere.
To begin, lay on your back or sit in a comfortable chair. Place one hand on your belly, just below your rib cage. Place a second hand on the top of your chest, just below your collar bone. Take long, slow deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Try to limit movement in your upper chest and try to breathe deep into the bottom of your lungs instead of into your upper chest. Do this for at least five minutes, ten or fifteen minutes is ideal.
For a video tutorial, watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgTL5G1ibIo
The benefits of deep diaphragmatic breathing are endless, but to list a few:
- Reduces stress by lowering the stress hormone cortisol
- Improves mood by elevating the “feel good” hormone, serotonin
- Improves mental focus and concentration
- Improves the quality and effectiveness of meditation
I challenge you to try this exercise for 10 minutes each day! It’s easy and so effective.
Author: Darcy Magner, RMT
Toronto Registered Massage Therapist | Acupuncture Provider