5 Minute Mindful Breathing Exercises

GinaMarie Guarino, LMHC

5 Minute Mindful Breathing Exercises

A powerful method of dealing with the stress of each day is to practice deep breathing exercises. Deep breathing exercises can help relieve any symptoms of stress, including daily stressors, unexpected challenges, or prolonged family and life issues. No matter the stressor, deep breathing exercises are very helpful in relieving symptoms of stress.

The Science Behind Deep Breathing

Deep breathing exercises are effective in helping relieve stress because it helps to relax the body. When we are stressed, our muscles are tense. The tension causes our bodies and minds to remain in a stressed state.

Deep breathing helps relieve the tension in the body by bringing copious amounts of oxygen to the muscles. This oxygen intake relaxes the muscles, which communicates to the brain that it is okay to feel calm.

Deep breathing exercises can help you feel grounded throughout your day. It can help improve your thoughts and emotions. It also helps you manage your stress reaction, which improves your ability to problem solve. And it only takes a few minutes a day!

Consider trying the following deep breathing exercises to lessen the intensity that stress affects you.

10-Second Breaths

A great deep breathing exercise to try is the 10-second breath. It is a quick exercise, and is easy to perform anywhere. It can be done without anyone really noticing! So you can complete the exercise comfortably either alone or in public.

A 10-second breath is best performed in a quiet space, but if this is not possible, it can be completed anywhere.

Follow the following steps to complete a 10-second breath:

  1. Find a comfortable position. Your eyes may be either closed or open, whichever way you feel most comfortable.
  2. Try to turn off all other thoughts as you focus how you are breathing. Pay attention to how your chest rises and falls with each breath.
  3. After about 30 seconds of focusing on your breath, exhale all of the air from your lungs. Spend 3 seconds focusing on the sensation of the emptiness in your lungs.
  4. Take a deep, slow, 10-second breath in through your nose. Your lungs should be full by the 10th second. Hold the air in your lungs for 3 seconds.
  5. Breathe out through your mouth for a 10-second count. By the end of the 10 seconds, your lungs should be empty. Hold 3 seconds.
  6. Repeat this cycle 5-7 times. By the end of the exercise, you should feel more relaxed and grounded than before.

Belly Breaths and Chest Breaths

The process of belly breaths and chest breaths are quite similar in function. These deep breathing exercises do require more active attention, so it is best to perform these exercises in a quiet, secluded space. They can be particularly helpful in the morning and evening, right before bed and right when you wake up.

To complete a belly breath:

  1. Find a comfortable position. Be sure to have your back
    straight and your spine in line.
  2. Place one hand over your belly button. Place the other hand on your chest.
  3. Take a deep breath in through the nose. On this breath, try to only allow your belly to rise. Take in as much air as you can without your chest moving.
  4. Hold the breath for 5 seconds.
  5. Breathe out through the mouth, using your belly to force the air out.
  6. Repeat the exercise 3 times. Then, switch your hands and complete 3 more breaths.

To complete a chest breath:

  1. Find a comfortable position. Be sure to have your back
    straight and your spine in line.
  2. Place one hand over your chest. Place the other hand on your belly button.
  3. Take a deep breath in through the nose. On this breath, try to only allow your chest to rise. Take in as much air as you can without your belly
  4. Hold the breath for 5 seconds.
  5. Breathe out through the mouth, using your breastbone to force the air out.
  6. Repeat the exercise 3 times. Then, switch your hands and complete 3 more breaths.

4-7-8 Breaths

Similar to 10-second breaths, 4-7-8 breaths are great to practice because they can be done virtually anywhere. It is a great exercise to use for in-the-moment stress, or if you just feel like you need a moment to decompress. This breath can be useful for those who suffer from performance anxiety and in preparation for completing a stressful task.

Follow the steps below to complete a 4-7-8 breath:

  1. Find a comfortable position. Your eyes may be either closed or open, whichever way you feel most comfortable.
  2. Try to turn off all other thoughts as you focus how you are breathing. Pay attention to how your chest rises and falls with each breath.
  3. After about 30 seconds of focusing on your breath, exhale all of the air from your lungs. Spend 3 seconds focusing on the sensation in your chest.
  4. Take a strong 4-second breath in through your nose. Your lungs should be full by the 4th second. Hold the air in your lungs for 7 seconds.
  5. Breathe out through your mouth for a 8-second count. By the end of the 8 seconds, your lungs should be empty.
  6. Repeat this cycle 3-5 times. By the end of the exercise, you should feel more relaxed and grounded. You will find you are better able to focus, and your anxiety has subsided.

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