Mindful Breathing: Here Are Three Of The Fastest And Easiest Ways To Relieve Stress

Dec 10, 2015 06:02 AM EST | By Maria Leonila Masculino

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As people deal with stress on a regular basis, there isn't any other easier way to relax than to "just breathe."

According to Integrative and Functional Medicine expert Dr. Frank Lipman, pausing for a moment to focus on your breathing could immediately relieve stress --- when done correctly. Mindful breathing is the "best and fastest" way to slow down heart rate, lower blood pressure, calm intense emotions and restore energy.

"Mindful breathing is simple, effective and can be done just about anywhere, at any time," Lipman wrote. "Better yet, mindful breathing techniques activate the parasympathetic nervous system, making them great instant stress relievers."

To find out its amazing effects, Lipman suggested three "fast-acting, stress-reducing breathing techniques" that could immediately soothe your mind and body.

Lipman calls the basic abdominal breathing as "the speedy soother." To do this exercise, find a nice quiet spot and position yourself as relaxed as possible (sitting or lying is ok).

Place your hands on your abdomen, with your mouth gently closed and tongue touching the roof of your mouth, and breathe through your nose.

"Inhale deeply and slowly into your abdomen (rather than your chest), being aware of your diaphragm moving downward and your abdomen expanding. Your hands on your abdomen will feel the expansion like a balloon filling," he says.

Without holding your breath, inhale and exhale slowly. "Try to get all the breath out of your lungs on the expiration," he explained. "The expiration should normally be about twice as long as the inhalation when you get relaxed."

Keep repeating this focusing on your hands on top of your rising and falling abdomen.

For the advanced abdominal breathing, which he calls "the tension terminator," count 10 abdominal breaths in a comfortable position.

"Then imagine with your next inhalation that you are breathing into a tense area such as a tight neck, a strained lower back, your head, your buttocks, or wherever you may feel pain or tension," he says. "With the exhalation, let the tension go out of your nose along with the air."

Lipman suggests keep repeating this exercise until the tension or pain is relieved.

To do the 4-7-8 breathing, position the tip your tongue on the area where the back of your upper teeth meet the upper palate. With your mouth closed, inhale through the nose for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, and exhale completely for 8 seconds while making a sighing sound.

"As breaths come and go, they'll teach you to let go, and go with the flow, reminding you that nothing remains constant, everything changes," Lipman notes. "Remember it's not possible to control everything and to be perfect - so remember to "let it go" as you breathe with awareness."

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