Here is something else that you should say yes to: breathing. According to Harvard Medical School, deep breathing can help you call on a “relaxation response,” which in turn helps you respond to stress more successfully and prevent stress-induced anxiety and depression. Despite the fact that we breathe very much on the regular (I hope so anyway!), sometimes we need to think a little more about our breathing in order to see stress-fighting benefits.
A great starting point is something called “equal breathing,” which is exactly what its name suggests. Breathing only through your nose, inhale for a count of four, and then exhale for a count of four. This is a good technique for beginners, and is a great way to help alleviate some stress and improve your focus.
Another breathing exercise that sounds deceptively simple but is really a form of meditation is breath counting. You count each exhale, but you never count past 5. After 5, you restart at 1. If you reach 10 or 12 it means you are not paying attention to your breath. This is a great technique to use when you want to clear your mind or take a minute as a mini-meditation.
One of the most popular breathing exercises out there is the 4−7−8 breath. This breath is broken into three stages: the inhale, the hold, and the exhale. You start by inhaling to a count of four. Then hold your breath for a count of seven. Finally, exhale over a count of eight. The ratio is the important thing in this breathing exercise, since you can count as quickly or as slowly as you would like. What is important is that you are counting consistently across all three phases. You don’t want a long count of four for the inhale and a rushed count of eight on the exhale. This is a great technique to help you fall asleep or to use while sitting in traffic or in a tough meeting. It’s easy, effective, and requires nothing at all — except air! Hatch Health and Happiness has handy 4−7−8 breathing cards in stock that you can scatter around your house, car, and/or office. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a card in the mail!
Here is the link to the Harvard Medical School study