We often rush from one task to the next, trying to tick off as many boxes as possible on our never-ending to-do lists. We push ourselves to work longer hours and sacrifice sleep to get the most out of our days. While it may seem like the only way to get ahead, this constant state of stress can seriously harm our physical and mental health. When stressed, our fight-or-flight response is triggered, increasing heart rate, breathing, and muscle tension. While this response is helpful in some situations, it is unnecessary when dealing with mental stress. The problem is that our work is never completely done, and chronic stress takes a toll on our overall well-being. That is why it is important to remember that relaxation is not just something you earn when you finish your chores but something you need to protect your health. By incorporating techniques like relaxation breathing into our daily lives, we can manage stress and find the balance we need to live a healthy, fulfilling life.
The benefits of relaxation breathing
Many of us take rapid, shallow breaths in stressful situations. As a result, a breathing pattern arises where we breathe out too much carbon dioxide. Due to this shortage of carbon dioxide, physical complaints arise like shortness of breath, dizziness, pressure on the chest, and heart palpitations. One effective way to prevent this is to become more mindful of our breathing patterns. By paying attention to how we breathe throughout the day — whether sitting at a desk, taking a walk, or lounging on the couch — we can take steps to improve. Relaxation breathing techniques, for example, are an excellent way of improving your breathing.
Breathing techniques for you to try
Several studies show that controlling your breathing actually leads to a reduction in your stress levels. Several breathing techniques used to reduce stress are:
This method tells you to inhale for 4 seconds through your nose (with your mouth closed), then hold this breath for 7 seconds and exhale through your mouth for 8 seconds. When you consciously bring your breath down, you also force your heart to slow down, which calms you down quickly.
Box breathing is a form of deep breathing that involves inhaling through your nose for 4 seconds, holding your breath for 4 seconds, exhaling for 4 seconds, and holding your breath for 4 seconds once again.
Wim Hof Breathing Exercises
With Wim Hof's breathing exercises, you learn to influence the autonomic nervous system and teach it to switch back faster from the fight-or-flight response to a state of relaxation. The breathing exercise goes as follows:
- Take 30-40 deep breaths.
- Then let the air out and stop breathing.
- Hold until the urge to breathe returns.
- When you feel the urge to breathe again, inhale deeply and hold your breath for approximately 15 seconds. Let the breath go to complete the round.
- Repeat 3-4 times.
To discover more about the Wim Hof Breathing Exercises, click here.
Other relaxation techniques
Besides breathing exercises, more relaxation techniques can help you achieve a peaceful state of mind:
- One technique involves taking an ice bath regularly. The freezing temperature stimulates the vagus nerve, and this nerve tells your body it is time to relax.
- Another technique is a visualization exercise, where you imagine a place that brings you a feeling of calm and serenity. By using all of your senses to create a vivid picture in your mind, you feel more relaxed in no time.
- Muscle relaxation is another way to ease your stress levels. With this technique, you tense a muscle group for 5 seconds and then fully release it for 10 to 20 seconds before you move on to the next muscle group.
- Finally, follow one of our video courses to get the tools you need to relax. Learn the basics of the Wim Hof Method in our free Mini Course and learn all the ins and outs of the method in the Fundamentals or Classic video course.