Stress is a big cause of some major health issues, and can trigger many more.

The body doesn’t respond well to stress naturally. It is either fight or flight as a response, and it isn’t usually necessary to fight or run away.

Most of our stress comes from things we can’t fight or run away from anyway. So, how can we help our bodies respond correctly to stress?

One big help is breathing exercises. The reason they are so helpful is that proper breathing is meant to directly address the fight or flight response and bring your brain and body back to normal. The opposite of the “fight or flight” stress response is to “rest and digest”. The breathing exercises will bring your body back to a resting state.

Before you try these methods, be sure you are in a comfortable and peaceful environment. Either lay down or sit comfortably. Try to reduce any distractions around you first.

Some breathing exercises to try when you are stressed include:

1. 4-7-8 Method – Breathe in deeply for 4 full seconds as to fill your lungs with air. Then hold it in for 7 seconds. Then, breathe out for 8 seconds. Then, repeat. This is one of the most popular exercises.

2. 7-11 Method – Breathe in slowly but deeply for 7 seconds. Then, breathe out slowly for 11 seconds. Stay mindful of how much air to take in for the 7 seconds and how much air to exhale for the 11 seconds. Try to keep the breathing even without stopping or holding it in.

3. Nose Then Mouth Method – Breathe in deeply through your nose so that your lungs fill with air. Then, breathe out of your mouth with your lips puckered, as if making a W sound with your mouth. It should work so that you make a slight ‘woosh’ sound as you exhale. Relax your jaw as well. Then, begin breathing in through your nose and repeat until calm. Do not do this too quickly or too many times in a row or you may hyper-ventilate and get dizzy.

If you have never tried breathing exercises, you may be surprised to find that they do work. As long as you do it properly and mindfully, you should find some relaxation in these techniques.

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