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Two easy breathing and relaxation exercises

Never tried breathing and relaxation exercises? Here are two simple programs to help you get started.

  • Breathing exercise benefits

    Deep breathing and relaxation exercises are one of the best ways to cope with the symptoms of anxiety, relieve muscle tension and reduce stress levels in the body[1].

    Breathing exercises, which are activities that force you to focus solely on your breathwork, help you to slow down and take deep breaths. Relaxation exercises help you to relax by recognising the difference between tension and relaxation.

  • Deep breathing exercise

    When you’re feeling stressed, anxious or nervous, you’re probably taking short, sharp, shallow breaths. Slow, deep breathing can help you to relax and feel less anxious.

    You can do breathing exercises when you’re feeling anxious before a big event or as part of your daily routine.

    How to get started

    • Find a quiet place
    • Sit or lie comfortably
    • Focus on your breath
    • Breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose
    • Allow your chest and stomach to rise as your lungs fill with air
    • Count to three as you breathe in
    • Breathe out slowly through your mouth.

    Repeat the above steps as many times as you need. You may wish to put one hand on your stomach so you can feel your abdomen expand as you fill your lungs with air.

    Concentrating on your breathing can help you switch off from negative thoughts and feelings, enabling you to feel more relaxed. You can also try combining deep breathing with mental imagery (e.g. thinking about a calm and peaceful place or situation that puts you at ease).

  • Progressive muscle relaxation exercise

    Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique that helps to reduce muscle tension, a common symptom of stress and anxiety. If you clench your jaw, grind your teeth, tense your shoulders or abdominal muscles, then this technique can help you relax.

    In progressive muscle relaxation, you tense specific muscles or groups, then relax them while breathing deeply.

    How to get started

    • Find a quiet location with minimal distractions
    • Sit or lie comfortably
    • Slow your breathing and take a few deep breaths
    • Breathe in and tense a particular muscle group – the idea is to be able to feel the tension but not be in pain
    • Keep the muscle tense for about five seconds
    • Breathe out and relax the muscle for around 10 seconds before moving onto a new muscle group.

    Repeat the technique for every muscle group in the body, including your legs, stomach, chest, shoulders, arms, fingers, jaw, and face.

    Please note that if you have a physical injury, you should consult your GP before trying progressive muscle relaxation.

    Focusing your breathing can help you cope with life’s daily stressors and feel more content. If you build these breathing and relaxation exercises into your daily routine, starting with just a few minutes every day, you should start to notice a difference in your mood and energy.

    These exercises may not work for everyone. If you’re concerned about your stress levels, talk to your GP or health professional. You can also call our Mind Health counsellors on 1300 029 131 or click the floating chat button on the right.

    If is an emergency, please call 000.


    [1] Health Direct,to%20handle%20problems

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