Have you ever been told to ''just breathe?''

When you're caught in a moment of panic, it may seem ludicrous, impossible even. However, the act of being aware of your breath actually helps initiate the body's relaxation response. 

Deep Breath Chill GIF by Josephina

Learn to tap into this natural tool and relax anywhere by trying these deep breathing techniques. 

But, wait... what's the difference between regular breathing and deep breathing? 

What Is Deep Breathing? 

Lots of people interpret relaxation as vegging on the couch during a marathon session of The Office, but in reality, your brain is still stressing. Deep breathing is one way to put the brakes on stress and turn ''off'' the mind in order to find a true state of calm and relaxation. 

Deep breathing techniques can slow heart rate, lower blood pressure, and bring your body and mind back into balance.

Essentially, it allows your mind to catch up with your body. 

Instead of breathing on autopilot, deep breathing entails being mindful about each inhale and exhale. Also called "restorative breathing techniques," here are a few tips to get started: 

  • Choose a quiet, peaceful place to do your breathing exercises, such as your bedroom, in the park, or even in the silence of your parked car.
  • Don't force your breath, this can only make you feel more stressed. (NOT the goal.)
  • Try to complete your breathing routine at the same time every day, if possible, twice a day i.e. morning and night. In other words, make it a habit!
  • Wear comfortable clothes, nothing too restrictive. 
  • Most breathing routines take no longer than five minutes, but if you can devote 10-15 minutes this makes for a more effective relaxation experience.  

    Effective Deep Breathing Techniques Worth Your Time 

    In the grand scheme of things, it's only 5-10 minutes out of 24-hours... you have the time. Try one or all five of these routines and stick with the technique you like best. 

    1. Deep Breathing

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    Did you know most people tend to breathe incorrectly? Seems silly but it's true. It's common for most of us to take short, shallow breaths into the chest, which can only deepen stress and anxiety. Essentially, a basic deep breathing routine teaches you to breathe into your belly. 

    1.    Find a comfortable spot and a comfortable position whether it's lying on your bed or sitting in a chair, with your back supported. 
    2.    Breathe in slowly through your nose, allowing your belly to fill with air, slowly inflating until your stomach and chest are full. 
    3.    Exhale your breath slowly all the way out through the nose. 
    4.    Place one hand on your belly and the other on your chest 
    5.    Repeat.
    6.    As you breathe in and out, feel the rise and fall of your belly, more than your chest. 
    7.    Take three more full breaths in and out (each one is called a "cycle"). Focus on sending your breath to your belly with each cycle.

    Repeat this focused deep breathing for 5-10 minutes. Try it every morning before your day begins and every evening before bed.  

    2. Breath Focus

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    The aim of this exercise is to focus on your breath as a representation of both your levels of stress and calm. Pretty cool stuff.

    Find a quiet place for this exercise and get comfortable. Ideally, you should be lying down with your eyes closed, but sitting with a loose gaze is A-ok. Before you begin, pick a calming word or phrase to focus on as you breathe. 

    1.    Take in a couple of big, deep breaths to begin, through your nose and out through your mouth as we did earlier. 
    2.    As you breathe in, imagine your body is filled with a sense of peace that is represented by your breath.
    3.    As you breathe out, imagine all your stress and tension leaving your body with the breath 
    4.    As you breathe in again, pick a phrase or word to focus on with your breath i.e. "I breathe in calm." 
    5.    As you exhale, pick another phrase or word to focus on as the tension leaves your body i.e. "I exhale stress."

    If you can continue this breath focus cycle for 10-minutes, morning and night, you're guaranteed to notice a great shift in your mind-body balance and stress levels. 

    3. Progressive Muscle Relaxation

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    This exercise focuses on tensing certain muscle groups as you inhale and releasing any tension that muscle is holding onto during the exhale. This routine helps you to relax both physically and mentally. Win-win. 

    1.    Lie down comfortably on the floor on a carpet or yoga mat. 
    2.    Take in a few deep breaths to relax yourself. 
    3.    As you breathe in, tense the muscles of your feet, and as you breathe out, relax the feet. 
    4.    As you breathe in, tense the muscles of the calves, and as you breathe out, relax the muscles 
    5.    Work your way up the rest of your body by tensing and relaxing different muscle groups as you go. 

    Some of the most important muscle groups to concentrate on include your legs, belly, chest, arms, fingers, shoulders, neck, and even the face. These areas tend to hold the most tension throughout the day. 

    4. Modified Lion's Breath

    Workout Yoga GIF by lillen

    At first, you may feel a little silly performing this exercise but it's definitely worth the ridicule (or just complete it in a private space). Find a quiet space where you won't be interrupted and try this modified lion's breath

    1.    Get comfortable in a seated position on the floor. 
    2.    Let out all your breath with a big, wide-open mouth. 
    3.    Then, breathe in through your nose and concentrate on filling your belly up with air. Not your chest, remember. Although a big belly breath will eventually make your chest puff up a little.
    4.    When you can't inhale anymore, open up your mouth as wide as possible. 
    5.    Exhale all your breath as you make an ''Ahh'' sound from the throat. 

    Repeat for 5-10 minutes as part of your morning and evening routines. 

    5. 4-7-8 Breathing

    Music Video Vintage GIF by Blossöm Records

    This is an exercise that focuses on long, deep inhaled and exhaled breaths. Essentially, it requires you to control your breathing for a certain period of time. This is a form of rhythmic breathing that is well-known for managing anxiety and stress. Follow this pattern: 

    1.    Find a comfortable seat and close your eyes. 
    2.    Empty your lungs of air completely. 
    3.    Breathe in through the nose for a count of 4 seconds. 
    4.    Hold your breath here for a count of 7 seconds. 
    5.    Then, exhale through the mouth with pursed lips for a count of 8 seconds. 
    6.    Make sure your breath is making a ''whoosh'' sound as you exhale. 

    Repeat this cycle up to 4 times for a deeper, relaxed state-of-mind. 

    Live Your Best Life with NewAge Health Scoop

    Aside from advice on deep breathing techniques, our Health Scoop blog offers handy tidbits of advice on how to live a healthier, happier life. 

    Ever heard about the benefits of taking ice-cold showers first thing in the morning?