Breathing is a big part of our walking and of course, life in general.

However, when we’re stressed we tend to take small shallow breaths and use our shoulders rather than our diaphragm to move air in and out of our lungs. As well as not allowing us to take in as much air as possible, this also disrupts the balance of gases in the body.

Ironically, this process actually can make our stress symptoms worse so today we’re looking at how controlling your breathing can help. And it’s not just stress that it alleviates, there are many other benefits such as lowered blood pressure and heart rate, improved immune system function and reduced lactic build-up in muscle tissue.

There is so much about breathing to learn but I want to keep it simple for you.

breathe deeply often

The main aim is to get you breathing abdominally rather than in your upper chest. So here are some exercises for you.

Breathing is a big part of our walking and of course, life in general.

There is so much about breathing to learn but I want to keep it simple for you.

Exercise number 1

Breathe in deeply to the abdomen – extending it and exhale – do this 7 times.

Exercise number 2

Again using abdominal breathing, breathe in for the count of 3, hold for 3 and exhale for 6 – really letting everything out of the lungs in the exhalation – repeat 7 times.

Today your challenge is to have a go at both these exercises. Do let me know how you feel afterwards.

“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.” – Amit Ray

Exercise number 3

Mindfulness is all about being in the moment and when you are in the moment you cannot be anywhere else. so have a go at this ‘mindful pause’ which is great for times when you feel stressed, overwhelmed, panicked and/or  anxious. It only takes about 30 seconds.

1. Take a deep breath and tune into your body.

2. Inhale slowly, filling your lungs from bottom to top. Inhale into your lower belly and then fill upward through your mid-torso and chest. Be aware of that connection between your breath and your mood. By slowing and deepening your breathing, you can actually create feelings of relaxation and calm.

3. Turn toward your body.

Be aware of the sensations in your body. Let yourself notice whatever comes up: warmth, coolness, tingling, pressure, or the touch of clothing. There’s no need to evaluate the sensations, they are as they are. Whatever you notice is perfect.

If you notice sensations that seem connected to stress or anxiety, those are especially good to pay attention to. Something like a twisting in your gut or a tightness in your chest or even warmth on your face. Stay with these bodily sensations and watch them, focus and allow anxious thoughts and emotions to pass on.

This step can be as quick as an in out breath or if you have time, then stay with it and practice for longer.

4. Rest your attention on your breath and feel the sensation of air touching your nostrils as you breathe. These sensations anchor you in the present moment.

Just let your body breathe however it wants to. And just like the previous step, this step can be as short as one in-breath or one out-breath.

Practice makes perfect, so the more you get used to these, the easier they will become and the more benefits you will receive. Mindfulness practice might help too and you can access this through our Seven days of Mindful Walking.

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