Breathing exercises: Are there breathing exercises designed to help reduce stress?

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Are there breathing exercises designed to help reduce stress?

Question

My aging mother gets stressed and irritated more easily and I worry this could cause problems over the longer-term for her mental well-being. What can I suggest to help to calm her down?

Our answer

It’s not uncommon for age-related issues to lead to feelings of frustration, stress and irritation. If you ever become concerned about your mother’s mental well-being, please be sure to encourage her to see a health professional.

For anyone who experiences stress, there are many helpful exercises to assist in increasing a sense of calm and well-being. Here are a few options you may wish to explore:

Breathing exercises: Taking several deep and regulated breaths sends a message to your brain to relax, which in turn sends a message to the body to relax as well. Stress Management: Breathing Exercises for Relaxation – on the HealthLinkBC website – describes a step-by-step process of several breathing exercises, such as belly breathing, 4-7-8 breathing and roll breathing.

Box breathing: You may want to explore a method called “box breathing,” a simple, introductory breathing technique designed to make people aware of their breathing patterns and to reinforce a therapeutic practice through mindful, deep breaths. The article Box Breathing Techniques and Benefits – on the VeryWell Mind website – outlines how box breathing works and some of the benefits of the technique.

Guided imagery: Visualization is another exercise designed to alleviate feelings of anxiety and agitation by drawing a person’s focus away from physical or psychological discomforts to concentrate on imagined sounds or sights that are pleasant and reassuring. Guided Imagery Exercises – on the Stress-Relief Tools website – provides scripts for guided imagery exercises. YouTube offers many free guided imagery exercises.

If your mother is comfortable using a smart phone or tablet, she may be interested in exploring guided meditation and breathing apps to help with these exercises.

 

For Apple devices, here are some direct links to the App store:

  • Oak – Meditation & Breathing, by Courtney Circle, is a free app designed to assist with meditation practices and breathing exercises through an interactive and helpful interface.
  • Breathe2Relax, by National Center for Telehealth & Technology, is a free app helps manage stress through breathing exercises.
  • Insight Timer, by Insight Network Inc., is a meditation app designed to help sleep and anxiety. The app offers guided meditations and courses to manage stress and promote overall well-being. Many meditations and courses in the app are free, but the premium version costs about $80 (Cdn) per year.

For Android devices, here are some direct links to the Google Play store:

  • Box Breathing – Breath Air, by Jankowsky Michal, is a free app that allows the user to configure his or her own style of deep breathing.
  • Breathe2Relax, by National Center for Telehealth & Technology, is a free app helps manage stress through breathing exercises.
  • Insight Timer, by Insight Network Inc., is a meditation app designed to help sleep and anxiety. The app offers guided meditations and courses to manage stress and promote overall well-being. Many meditations and courses in the app are free, but the premium version costs about $80 (Cdn) per year.

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