Fighting Stress with Intentional Breathing
Does fighting stress with intentional breathing work? Stress is perhaps one of the oldest enemies of the human body. For as long as we can remember, we have been looking for ways to combat it.
What is Intentional Breathing?
When we don’t have any breathing problems, it is easy to ignore how we breathe. And sometimes, we don’t even bother thinking about it anymore. Intentional breathing is also mindful breathing. It means you are aware that you are breathing or breathing with a purpose.
So, can intentional breathing work fight stress? How can you do that?
Two Things to Remember
Before you practice intentional breathing, there are two things you need to remember first. One, practicing this method may feel strange on the first try. It may even feel a bit awkward or difficult. But don’t worry, it is expected. Just make sure to give yourself time to adjust as you explore this breathing exercise.
The next thing you must remember is if, by chance, you feel uncomfortable or if this does not feel right to you, it is okay to take a break. You can even stop practicing the breathing exercise and try some other time.
How to Practice Intentional Breathing
The good thing about intentional breathing is you can do it everywhere. To do this, you can start by sitting down, placing one hand on your belly and the other on your chest .
Breathe normally and take note of where it is coming from. Take time and adjust your breathing. Notice when you inhale and feel your belly expand to your lungs, then your chest, and to the throat. Once you do, hold your breath for a moment.
As you exhale, release your breath slowly, feeling your chest drop, then your lungs, and then your belly sinking in. You can continue to do this breathing at least 10 to 20 times or when you are comfortable with it.
How Fighting Stress with Intentional Breathing Helps
The practice of intentional breathing was intended to activate your parasympathetic nervous system or the PNS. It initiates the relaxation response of the body. It also helps you in reducing blood pressure and respiration. Intentional breathing can also bring instant relaxation and calming effects. Other benefits of this breathing exercise include:
- Stimulates the endorphins so you can fight depression and stress.
- It helps increase your energy.
- Reducing the toxin build-up in your lungs.
- It keeps you alert or has feelings of being alert.
- It gives you the strength to manage your negative emotions.
- It enables you to break your subconscious habits, like your fears and insecurities.
- It gives you the clarity you need and builds patience.
Some people find intentional breathing beneficial. However, it does not always work for everyone. Some people find it difficult to concentrate on their breathing, especially when their minds are in constant chatter.
If you are one of these people, the best way to improve your intentional breathing exercise is to attach your breath to a phrase or word to keep your mind in focus. Any word can work as long as it helps you focus your mind on the sensation of the breath. The key is to keep the words or phrases simple so you can still feel the center of it all.
Stress is a part of our daily life, and there are plenty of drug-free ways to fight them. Intentional breathing is just one of those techniques that you can try.
If you don’t feel comfortable with this exercise, you can always do your research or seek medical help for your anxieties. This way, you have a proper diagnosis and treatment.