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Breathing techniques that reduce stress in five minutes or less

The holiday season, while jolly and merry, often can evoke stress and anxiety. A key habit for preventing and managing stress is to bring attention to your breathing patterns. Practice these three breathing techniques regularly to reduce stress and enjoy the holiday season.

Woman breathing in and relaxing

Breathe balanced

Practice this yogi technique of sama vritti or “equal breathing” by breathing through the nose for a count of four, and then exhaling through the nose for a count of four. Breathing this way can release stress, create a feeling of strength, calm the mind and promote more awareness of your present state. You can practice this technique anytime, anywhere, whether you are stressed or not. In fact, practicing proper stress-relieving breathing techniques can help build inner peace, which can help prevent feeling overwhelmed and frazzled.

Don’t inhale, enjoy

When we are busy and stressed, it is common to inhale your next meal or snack while hardly even tasting it. Eating too fast can result in overeating, which can cause weight gain, upset digestion and aggravate gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD) and heartburn. Eat slowly; put your fork or spoon down between bites. Enjoy the smells, appearance and atmosphere of your meal, as well as those dining with you. By doing so, you will enjoy your meal or snack more, and it will help improve your digestion. Eating more slowly will also help you to feel more peace and calm.

Breathe in fresh air and move

To enhance your experience:
Exercise outdoors and breathe in the fresh air. You’ll notice your stress level drop within the first five minutes of going on a hike, jog or walk outside. Fresh air and nature can work wonders for a busy and tired mind. Your body will respond to the slower pace of nature, which will help create a feeling of calm, even if you are hiking or running.

Exercise is one of the best, most affordable and health-enhancing ways to relieve stress and anxiety. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week as part of a healthy lifestyle, which equals 30 minutes a day, five days per week. Moderate-intensity means you are working hard enough to talk but you could not sing a song; your heart rate should be raised and you should break a sweat. Examples include jogging, swimming laps, riding a bike fast or up and down hills, playing tennis, or playing basketball. If working out for 30 consecutive minutes doesn’t fit your schedule, you can break this time up into smaller workouts throughout the day.

If you do not currently exercise and have a disability, an injury or are pregnant, see your health care professional before getting started with a new exercise routine.

More on stress management

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5 Ways to reduce the stress of air travel
No more meltdowns: Easy ways to ease holiday stress

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