If stress and overwhelm are relentlessly pushing you around, it’s time for a change! Sometimes life comes out of nowhere with a series of curveballs that really challenge us, this much is true.

Before you shell out hundreds for massages and spa retreats, what you really need is yourself, your lungs and a couple of minutes to decompress and shake off at least some of the overwhelming stress.

Why Try Breathing Exercises

Massages are great, but when you are stressed and frazzled right this second and your massage therapist can’t fit you in until next Tuesday at 10 a.m., what are you supposed to do?

Breathing exercises have been around for centuries with very little acclaim, oddly enough. Look at some of the reasons breathing exercises should be your ace in the hole when you feel stressed out, anxious and overwhelmed:

  • You can do them virtually anywhere, anytime.
  • Breathing doesn’t cost a single red cent.
  • The effects are noticed immediately.
  • You can do them before, during, or after a major stress-out situation and still reap the benefits.
  • You don’t need a degree or certificate to become a master at breathing exercises. You’ve pretty much been in practice all of your life.

Breathing exercises not only stop stress and overwhelm but there are also many other benefits too. Headaches and tension melt away, anxieties and phobias can be less prominent, depression gets a lift, sleeping problems disappear and chronic fatigue gets a shot of energy.

Every person is different and so are their individual needs. Breathing exercises are not a replacement for proper medical care. Each person will see different results, but one thing remains true for everyone willing to give breathing exercises a try – stress is less.

Quick & Easy Breathing Exercises

In case you haven’t noticed yet, as a society we demand solutions to be quick and easy. It doesn’t matter that we have spent months or even years getting to this level of stress, the fix should be instant! Lucky for us, breathing exercises are exactly that. Quick and easy with instant results. Let’s look at a few breathing exercises that anyone can do just about anywhere.

Deep Breathing

Super simple. Breathe in through your nose, pause, and out through your mouth in slow, deliberate breaths with one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest. The hand on your chest will stop your chest from moving as you inhale and exhale; the hand on your belly will gladly accept the deep breath as it forces your belly outward on inhale and falls on exhale.

Repeat. Keep going for a couple of minutes or so, until it feels natural and relaxed.

Counting Breaths

Similar to counting sheep when you’re trying to relax and fall asleep, in this one you’ll be counting breaths. The rules are – just count. That’s it. No need to change the way you breathe. Just breathe like normal and count each breath. Inhale, exhale = 1.

Try to reach 10 or even 20 if you’re feeling confident. If you get distracted or notice you are thinking about something else, gently pull your mind back to counting and start over at one.

Progressive Relaxation

This breathing exercise goes from head to toe, tightening groups of muscles on inhalation through the nose, pausing for a beat or two, and then releasing the tension on exhalation through the mouth. This is especially helpful if you’re having physical symptoms of stress like muscle aches and pains or headaches.

You can start with scrunching your face up on the first breath, then move to your shoulders and upper back, next arms and hands, next chest, stomach and lower back, then do the upper legs and buttocks, and finally finish with the lower legs and feet.

Each one of these examples can be done at your leisure or during hectic times. It takes a little bit of practice to get the full effect, but even the beginner will feel their overwhelm and stress slipping away as relaxation enters, blood pressure decreases and your breathing is deliberate and controlled.

Stressful situations are inevitable. It’s all part of life, but dealing with them appropriately doesn’t have to be costly or a great mystery. When you are feeling particularly overwhelmed at home or work, opt for your arsenal of quick and easy breathing exercises to help reduce stress.

You could even apply some breathing techniques to a hot bath and your favorite essential oil. It’s incredible the amount of power we have over our entire being, mood, health and strength with just some simple breathing exercises.