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Implementing Breathing Practices into Your Lifestyle

Aug 30, 2023
Breathing Practices

Implementing Breathing Practices into Your Lifestyle

Deep breathing and other breathing techniques are great tools for overall stress management because they are simple to implement, can be done anywhere and, with practice, can have a big impact. Deep breathing can decrease levels of cortisol, the primary stress hormone, in the body and can lead to lower blood pressure. 

To start, try practicing breathing techniques for at least five minutes, twice a day. Over time and with more practice, you will be able to call on this technique during moments of stress and use it to help you decompress. Here are two techniques you can try right now:

Square Breathing

Square breathing, also called box breathing, is a paced breathing exercise used for stress management by the United States Navy SEALs that anyone can do. It got its name because a box or square is a four-sided figure and this breathing technique requires you to count to four a total of four times for each breath. 

  1. Start by breathing out slowly, releasing all the air from your lungs.
  2. Breathe in through your nose for four counts. Be conscious of how the air fills your lungs and stomach.
  3. Hold your breath for four counts.
  4. Breathe out through your mouth for another four counts.
  5. Hold your breath again for four counts.
  6. Repeat for three to four rounds.

Belly Breathing

Normal breathing is relatively shallow and does not use the full capacity of our lungs. Belly breathing, or diaphragmatic breathing, is a deep-breathing technique that allows us to use the capacity of our lungs more fully. The diaphragm is a large muscle that sits at the base of your lungs, and when you practice belly breathing, you fully engage your abdominal muscles, lungs and diaphragm. Instead of breathing from your chest, you will breathe from your stomach and see your stomach rise and fall.

We typically breathe from our chest, so ensure your breath is coming from your belly. Breathing in this way helps get oxygen into your system. More oxygen helps us relax our bodies and think more clearly.

  1. Lie down on your back on the floor or your bed or sit upright in a chair.
  2. Place a hand on your belly, and as you breathe in from the abdomen, watch how your belly expands.
  3. Set an alarm and breathe deeply for a minimum of 1 minute. Try to practice three to four times a day for 10 minutes at a time.

Focus on your breathing

As you know, breathing is usually a mindless activity, one that we are constantly doing without even thinking about it. But the main benefits of any breathing techniques come only when you remained focus on your breathing and the movement of your body as you inhale and exhale. It is normal for your mind to wander when you do this practice. When this happens, gently bring your attention back to the breathing.

Baptist Cancer Center offers many free classes and support groups virtually and in-person through our THRIVE Survivorship Program. This program covers multiple different topics including Mindfulness and Laughter Yoga. Check out our classes and support groups here.