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Breathing Techniques for Stress and Anxiety

by Salochanee Reddy from The Equilibrium Holistic Integrative Health & Wellbeing Centre

Breathing exercises help reduce stress and anxiety, promote mindfulness and balance yourself. What makes breathing meditation accessible is the simplicity and that it can be done anywhere. We will delve into 2 such breathing techniques that can help you reduce your stress and anxiety anytime, anywhere.

The 4-7-8 is one of the breathing techniques that is a powerful way to restore balance and harmony in your mind and body, particularly during times of stress and anxiety or when you’re struggling to sleep. Get into a comfortable position and then follow these steps:
Inhale for 4 seconds
Hold your breath for 7 seconds and
Exhale for 8 seconds
Repeat this for at least a minute to experience the effect

The technique is simple and involves exhaling more air than you inhale. This temporarily slows down the amount of oxygen going to your brain and other parts of your body and au-tomatically slows down your heart rate and thinking. Since 4-7-8 breathing is also different from your natural breathing rhythm, it helps you to focus completely on your breath. As a result, this helps you be mindful and stay fully focused on the present. So, if you are hav-ing trouble sleeping, feel stressed or anxious, , or just want some peace of mind, give this breathing meditation a try.
A note – It is recommended that you do only 4 cycles of the breathing technique when starting out and slowly increase it to 8 times. Since this exercise provides quick relief and is not similar to normal breathing, you shouldn’t do it for too long.

Box breathing is a simple breathing technique involving slow and regulated breaths.
It is also known as four-square breathing.
All you have to do is get into a quiet and comfortable place and follow these steps:
Inhale for 4 counts
Hold your breath for 4 counts
Exhale for 4 counts
Before you inhale again, count to 4 and repeat the cycle

You can repeat this exercise for 2-3 minutes or until you feel better. You could even re-duce or increase the count from 4 depending on your comfort level. The count doesn’t matter as much as having a balanced breath cycle.
Very often, when we’re faced with stressful situations, we lose our natural rhythm and balance in our bodies and our thoughts. We stop thinking clearly, our heart rate be-comes irregular, etc. Box breathing allows you to balance your breath, which brings bal-ance to your mind and body.
Note for beginners:
When you start these breathing techniques for the first time, it is normal to not be able to focus or follow it properly, or losing your flow. You may even feel a bit light headed or dizzy while trying them out.
Remember, it’s perfectly normal to and all you need to do is take a sip of water, stay seated for a minute and resume when ready. The more you practice, the easier the breathing meditation will get.

The EQ Wellbeing Centre is a boutique Health and De-Stress facility offering various health and wellness therapies. Ideally located in the leafy tranquil suburb of Saxonwold, Johannesburg South Africa.