The Best Breathing Techniques To Fight The Sunday Scaries
The weekend is our favorite time of the week, and we love making DIY Starbucks drinks and getting plenty of rest, as well as waiting for the second season of Bridgerton to drop. Then Sunday night arrives, and all the stress of the week ahead comes in full-force. If you find yourself experiencing the Sunday Scaries every week, check out these breathing techniques that will keep you calm, cool, and collected.
Image via Willian Justen de Vasconcellos/Unsplash
If you ever feel like you can't keep from holding your breath when you're stressed, then this exercise is for you. 4-7-8 breathing, a technique created by holistic health pioneer Dr. Andrew Weil, turns our tendency to hold our breath into a helpful tool.
With your tongue resting behind your upper front teeth, breathe in to the count of four, hold the breath for a count of seven, then exhale for a count of eight. Dr. Weil describes this simple cycle as "a tranquilizer for the nervous system."
Diaphramic Breathing Technique
Image via Frank Flores/Unsplash
Turns out, you might be breathing the wrong way. Many Americans breathe predominantly through their upper chests instead of breathing deeply through their diaphragms, according to Jack Greene, a California-based holistic health practitioner.
To figure out whether you're breathing through your chest or your diaphragm, place one hand on your chest and one hand on your belly. Then take a deep breath, and see whether your chest or your belly moves more. Not only does deep diaphragmatic breathing lower stress and anxiety through longer inhales and exhales, but it is also thought to massage your abdominal organs to promote digestion.
If you're a chest breather, don't worry! You can learn to breathe through your belly with some mindfulness. Greene suggests lying flat on your back and placing your left hand on your heart and your right hand just below your belly button. Close your eyes and breathe in through your nose while trying to direct the breath into the hand on your belly. Practice this for several cycles of breath.
Intentional Breathing Technique
Image via Madison Lavern/Unsplash
Rebecca Dennis, author of And Breathe: The Complete Guide to Conscious Breathing for Health and Happiness ($10 on Kindle) explains that learning how to consciously connect to our breath is the trick for harmonizing the mind and feeling more relaxed.
"Breathing is something we all do, and yet, the majority of teenagers and adults let go of their natural ability to breathe fully," explains Dennis. "We're actually conditioned early on to control our feelings and emotions, and as a result, our breathing patterns become restricted."
The key is to bring awareness back to your breath and breathe intentionally, whether you're sitting down to dinner, exercising, or reading a book on the bus.
"Your brain is constantly streaming data down into your body, and your body is streaming data up to the brain; some of the messages might mislead and take you into 'fight or flight' mode by activating the sympathetic nervous system. Conscious breathing can help us rewire and reset our bodies systems."
Image via Motoki Tonn/Unsplash
Breathwork in its simplest form can, of course, reduce typical stress. And according to Raleigh, NC licensed counselor Connie Omari, owner of the online counseling platform Tech Talk Therapy, it can have even more profound effects on people struggling with anxiety and panic disorders.
"Engaging in breathwork is a great way to reduce anxiety, as it helps the person to gain control. By simply breathing in for four counts and breathing out for four counts, one's mind becomes distracted from their worry, forcing it to be driven away from the precipitating and worrying event," Omari explains. "This reinforces that the individual is in control of something (even if it's just their breath), and therefore they become more empowered to control their thoughts."
Breathwork and Fitness trainer Rebecca Kordecki agrees. In addition to improved long-term health, conscious breathing can help regulate your nervous system and fight viruses. "Conscious breathwork has been shown to have a huge impact on anxiety, stress, and depression when used regularly as part of a wellness routine," she says. "Studies are now proving that regular use of breathing exercises can make people less susceptible to stress by permanently changing their brain circuitry."
Try Rebecca's Breath Visualization:
- Sit in a quiet and comfortable place. Put one of your hands on your chest and the other on your belly. Close your eyes and take in a slow deep breath in through your nose into your belly and feel your belly rise. Then release the breath out through your mouth.
- 4 count inhale, 4 count exhale.
- Now start to visualize your happy place, somewhere in nature. Feel the sun on your face and the air on your skin. Take in all that is around you in that place.
- Continue to breathe in deep and slowly. As you breathe the hand on your chest should remain still while the hand on your belly will move slightly. Repeat 10 times.
What are your go-to breathing techniques? Let us know in our Instagram DM's and check out our stress management podcast episode with Dr. Aditi!
Brit + Co may at times use affiliate links to promote products sold by others, but always offers genuine editorial recommendations.
Featured image via averie woodard/Unsplash
- 9 Ways to Stay *Super* Calm During Pregnancy - Brit + Co ›
- Celebs Like Kylie Jenner Are Embracing Therapy. Here's Why It's a ... ›
- Here's What's Causing Your Acid Reflux + Foods That Will Help - Brit ... ›
- Here's What Really Happens to Your Body During a Panic Attack ... ›
- 5 Ways to Use Your Phone For Mental Health - Brit + Co ›
- How To Do The Sunday Reset The Right Way - Brit + Co ›
B+C Assistant Editor, Swiftie | If she's not writing, Chloe's probably watching a Marvel movie with a cherry coke or texting her sister about the latest celebrity news. Say hi at @thechloewilliams on Insta and @afangirlfirst on Twitter!