Few of us wake up luxuriously or move gracefully through our day. More often than not, we feel slammed between obligations - alarm clock - shower - school drop off - work - “did I have breakfast?”- meeting, meeting, meeting, email, email, email - back to school - workout (if we’re lucky) - dinner - and get ready to do it all over again. So — really — who has the time to relax?
Deep breathing inhibits stress-producing hormones. A moment spent focusing on the breath not only breaks up the day, it can restore a sense of peace when you need it most.
Think you can’t fit it in? In the time it takes to post on social media, you could be feeling a whole lot more relaxed. Here are 5 breathing techniques for some quick but real relaxation, and how to find time in your oh-so-busy day.
1. Deep Diaphragmatic Breathing
Mammals breathe this way naturally when we are in a state of rest. Shallow breathing is associated with hyperventilation and stress. Focusing on deep, full breaths gets you into a relaxation zone quickly.
To start, breathe in through your nose, filling the lungs and the belly. As you do, count the seconds as you inhale. (With time, see if you can build up to a count of 10.) Pause a moment with a full chest and belly, then slowly exhale through your mouth, counting the same number of seconds for the full exhale.
How to find the time: This is a great way to start the day. Steal a few moments in the shower for this exercise to set yourself up for success.
2. One Minute Breathing
This short session can create some much needed mental and emotional space. Think of this breath work as a buffer from the fast and daunting demands of the workday. This practice can curb quick reactions and help you approach situations with clearer perspective.
Set a timer for one minute. Sit and count your breaths during that time. The goal is not to reach a high number, instead it’s to focus your consciousness, ideally with deeper and longer breaths as you get accustomed to the practice.
How to find the time: While at your desk or taking a break outside.
3. Equal Breathing
Like hitting the Refresh button, Equal Breathing helps you stay balanced. Inhale through your nose, counting the seconds. Exhale through your nose for the same count. Gradually you can increase the count, bringing deeper relaxation.
How to find the time: Any time- standing in line for coffee, stuck in traffic…really, anytime! (Just keep your eyes open when driving ;)
To start, place the tip of your tongue where your teeth meet your gums. Then, inhale through the nose for 4 seconds. Hold your breath in your chest for 7 seconds, then exhale slowly through your mouth for 8 seconds. Repeat 3 more times. (When starting out, repeat this no more than 4 cycles.) The 4-7-8 breathing technique has been credited with being a tool for transformative relaxation in both day and night.
How to find the time: Is your evening too hectic for “YOU” time? Here’s a sly way to sneak some in. Standing at the stove or chopping vegetables for dinner, take a few moments to cycle through some 4-7-8 breathing. This is also handy if you wake up in the middle of the night. Dr. Andrew Weill, a big advocate for this exercise, advises doing it twice a day every day for cumulative on overall health.
5. Progressive Relaxation
Ever been super exhausted but can’t fall asleep? Sometimes it’s hard to wind down exactly when we want to. Use this practice to ease into slumber.
This exercise syncs breathing with clenching and releasing various muscles throughout the body for an all over uber release. Starting from the feet, move up the body, clenching and releasing muscle groups: from feet and toes to calves, thighs, glutes, abdominals, arms and hands, neck and shoulders. Inhale, tightening the muscle group, hold for 5 seconds, then release the muscle and your breath. If 5 seconds feels like too much, start with 2 seconds each.
(For any of these exercises, if you feel lightheaded, that will pass as you acclimate and practice regularly, but as you’re getting started hold the breath for 1-2 seconds and gradually increase.)
How to find the time: After turning off the light but before your mind starts to wander and take you down a rabbit hole of planning and anxiety of the next day.
Our daily lives are full – that goes for our minds as much as our schedules. In a matter of moments, we can get to a place of peace and calm. Daily breathing exercises can increase the body’s ability to counter waves of everyday stress. Another health tool to help you get to a calmer place? You guessed it: Charlotte’s Web whole-plant hemp extract. Both our oils and capsules contain a broad range of phytocannabinoids that helps to address everyday stresses.
So (quite literally), don’t worry, you have the tools to keep calm and carry on.