TheSkinny: Our recent back-to-basics items on “how to walk,” “how to shower” and “how to drink water” were so popular that this week we’ll investigate: Breathing.
What is “stress response?” It’s a body function that kicks in when confronted with danger. So while helpful in day-to-day life situations like…avoiding being hit by a taxi, a more constant provocation of this response—which builds up over time—can cause health problems ranging from a suppressed immune system to anxiety or depression.
However, as explained by Harvard Health, we can more effectively counter everyday and built-up stress by “invoking the relaxation response.” This can be done in several ways, including deep breathing, yoga or practicing breath focus. A tip: Shallow “chest breathing,” which is often the norm, limits oxygenated air in the lower part of your lungs—which can make you feel anxious.
To learn more: Find a quiet corner and dive into this InStyle article: From the Box Breath to the 4-7-8 technique and the Breath of Fire, it outlines seven easy techniques for breathing with intention. You may also want to consider incorporating aromatherapy, for which we have found a Psychology Today-approved list of six essential oils that can help with stress relief and sleep.
How often should I practice breathing? Experts in the InStyle article recommend rounds of breathing before you start the day, and also when you head to sleep. Harvard suggests once a day, at the same time, for 20-30 minutes. Take a breath and think about what schedule works best for you.
While you’re on the mat, it’s probably time to think about cleaning it. Here’s how.