Despite wanting to keep work at work, people often find themselves bringing home the stress from work home. Carrying stress around is not only bad for the body, but also prevents us from staying motivated. People have a tendency to feel overwhelmed or tired when stressful days are brought home. This, in turn, leads to bad food choices and skipping a workout. Long-term unmanaged stress causes illness and an unhealthy lifestyle.
When work stress is affecting other aspects of life, a change needs to occur. Since quitting a job is not a solution most people can take, other avenues need to be explored. One such avenue is controlled breathing exercises. These exercises can be done while at work and could significantly improve stress levels by lowering your blood pressure and heart rate. Stress causes us to take shallow, short breaths, which causes the heart to work harder. Controlled breathing exercises use long, deep breaths to manage the heart rate. The best part about controlled breathing is how quickly it is effective. In a matter of minutes, the body will be more relaxed.
There are a number of deep breathing techniques one can use and you can even create your own. Here are a few to try out in the beginning:
This technique is my favorite and the one I use most often. This pattern requires you to inhale for four seconds, hold your breath for two, and exhale for five seconds. I like this technique because it is easy for everyone, including those with breathing problems. In under a minute, the body will already feel relaxed.
Aim for a minimum of two minutes when doing the controlled breathing. The great part about this is that you can still work while doing the exercise.
Some people don’t like holding their breath and prefer a simple inhale-exhale pattern. If that is the case, try inhaling for five seconds and exhaling for five seconds. Breathing patterns are still being controlled, but in a more natural way. Try to work on increasing the time because the deeper the breaths, the more successful this will be.
Create your own
You know your body better than anyone else, so play around with the numbers and find what works best for you. I’ve found that having a longer inhale time than exhale time is the most beneficial for me. I become relaxed much quicker when I take very deep breaths; however, that doesn’t mean that will work best for everyone. The key is to make your inhale time longer while also still being comfortable. The deep breath is what helps slow the heart down. Exhale time can be as long as the inhale time or a little shorter. Remember, the goal is to be mindful of your breathing.
Two minutes is a good starting point for the amount of time to do the exercises; however, if you are extremely stressed, aim for longer, perhaps 5 minutes. Any time you start to feel tense or stressed again, start the exercises. Some days, doing the controlled breathing exercise once during work will be enough; other times, the exercises may need to be done every hour. You can’t overdo on breathing exercises, so don’t worry.
When to use the exercises
Any time at work when you feel stressed is a good time to use the controlled breathing exercises. Always do an exercise at the end of the work day to release remaining stress.
Use a heart rate monitor
To see the results on your heart rate, download Instant Heart Rate by Azumio. This app works by placing your index finger on the camera lens. Use this before and after the breathing exercises to determine how effective the techniques are. This will help with determining the best technique for your body.
Christin currently teaches English in a Chicago suburb. Her time as a teacher helped her understand the importance of physical and mental health. Because of her interest in health, she went back to school and received a Masters of Arts in School and Community Counseling. With a desire to help others, Christin began blogging in the hopes of showing others how physical health can lead to a happier life.
Second Photo Credit: Lasha Kilasonia/shutterstock.com; Third Photo Credit: Mladen Mitrinovic/shutterstock.com; Fourth Photo Credit: Preto Perola/shutterstock.com