4 powerful relaxation exercises for remote workers

It's a very stressful time in the world but there is hope. In this post we teach you 4 powerful breathing exercises to soothe your anxious mind.
Apr 4, 2020 • 5 minute read
Edward Kost @EdwardKost
Technical Co-pilot
Cover photo for 4 powerful relaxation exercises for remote workers

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Feeling anxious? These breathing exercises will help instantly

With the Coronavirus pandemic changing so much of our lives in such a small amount of time, it's easy to lose your grip and get swept away by the tumultuous winds of anxiety.

And if you've been thrown into an unfamiliar remote working model, it can be difficult to concentrate on your work while you're anxiously trying to adjust. 

In this post, we'll teach you the top 4 most effective breathing techniques that will help you melt your stress away instantly.

You can either follow along with your personal instructor in the video, or read the instructions for each exercise below.

Disclaimer:

These breathing exercises are not intended as a medical treatment or preventative for any ailments. You should always consult with a medical professional before commencing any exercise.

 

How to breathe correctly

This might seem strange to you. Of course we all know how to breathe correctly right?

Wrong.

Most of us breathe with our chest. So when we breathe in and out our chest expands and contracts. This is known as thoracic breathing. It's not a very efficient way of breathing because it limits the amount of oxygen entering your body.

When we're stressed we tend to breathe thoracically, and these sharp inefficient breaths cause our heart to beat faster and our stress levels to rise.

The most efficient way of breathing is belly breathing (also known as diaphragmatic breathing). With belly breathing your belly expands and contracts rather than your chest.

Belly breathing  encourages a lot more life giving oxygen to flow around your body and it expels a lot more of that nasty carbon dioxide.

Here are some of the other amazing benefits of belly breathing:

  • It lowers the stress hormone cortisol in your body

  • It stimulates the lymphatic systems and detoxifies the body

  • Lowers blood pressure

  • Improves digestion

  • It strengthens the diaphragm and improves breathing efficiency

All of these benefits and more just by simply changing your breathing technique, how amazing is that?

Because of all of these wonderful benefits, you should aim to adopt belly breathing as your default breathing manner. 

How to belly breathe.

For those that have never done belly breathing before, we'll run you through the method step-by-step. If you have you can simply skip this section and start the first breathing exercise below. 

1. Sit in a comfortable position 

Lean back on your chair. Loosen your shoulders by turning them around in a few circles and then close your eyes.

2. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly

Start breathing as you normally would. Notice whether the hand on your chest is rising or the hand on your belly is rising. Chances are, the hand on your chest is the one that's rising. 

Your aim with this breathing technique is to keep the hand on your chest stationary and for only the hand on the belly to rise and fall.

3. Breathe in through your nose

Keeping your shoulders relaxed and loose, breath in deeply and slowly through your nose. As you do, concentrate on your belly. Aim for the air to fill your belly, causing it to expand like a basketball.

The hand on your chest should not be moving up.

3. Purse your lips and breathe out through your mouth. 

Breathe out through your mouth slowly with pursed lips. You should hear the air "whooshing" out. Don't force it, let it flow out in a soothing manner.

Repeat this process until you are only breathing with your belly. Practice mindful breathing by being conscious of how the air is moving in and out of your body.

As you breathe in, notice how the air flowing through your nostrils feels nice and cool, and as you breathe out notice how it feels a little warm on your lips.

For many, this simple exercise of mindful belly breathing is enough to induce an instant state of numbing relaxation. Repeat as many times as you like.

Breathing exercise 1: The 1:2 breath

For this exercise we'll be breathing out for twice as long as we breathe in.

Remember, this exercise, and all of the exercises are to be performed with belly breaths for maximum effectiveness.

Here is an overview of the process.

Breathe in through the nose for four seconds, and out through the mouth for eight seconds. The ratio of 4sec : 8sec should be comfortable for most people, but feel free to adjust it to your liking.

The video below will guide you through this exercise.

 

 

Breathing exercise 2: Nostril breathing 

This breathing exercise is a slight variation of the famous alternate nostril technique.

Here's an overview of the exercise.

We'll be breathing in through one nostril and then out of the other, and then back into that same nostril and back out the other, and repeating this pattern.

Follow these steps.

Step 1: Cover your left nostril and breathe in through the right for four seconds.

Step 2: Switch nostrils and breathe out from the left for four seconds.

Step 3: Breathe back into the left nostril for four seconds.

Step 4: Switch nostrils and breathe out through the right nostril for four seconds. 

This completes 1 set. Complete 4 - 5 sets per session.

The video below will guide you through this exercise.


Breathing exercise 3: Box breathing

For this breathing exercise we'll be visualizing each step as we progress, so it's a very effective exercise for calming busy minds.

It's called box breathing. There are four steps in this exercise, and as you complete each step imagine each side of a box being constructed. 

Step 1: Breathe in for four seconds and imagine one line of a box being drawn in the air.

box breathing

Step 2: Hold for four seconds and imagine the second side of this box being added.

box breathing

Step 3: Breathe out for 4 seconds and imagine the third line of the box being added.

box breathing

Step 4: Hold and imagine the final line being added, completing a lovely box shape.

 

box breathing 

That is 1 set. Complete 3 - 4 sets in one session.

The video below will guide you through this exercise.

 

Breathing exercise 4: The 4-7-8 breath

Our last breathing exercise is a very powerful relaxation tactic. It's known as the 4-7-8 breath exercise.

What we'll be doing is breathing in for 4 seconds, holding our breath for 7 seconds and then breathing out for 8 seconds and repeating this cycle. 

This is a fantastic exercise to do before bed to clear your mind. It puts your body into an optimal state of relaxation  that's perfect for falling asleep. 

Here is a break down of the process:

Step 1: Close your eyes and start belly breathing. Become conscious of your breath and any tension in your body.

Step 2: Once you have established a belly breathing rhythm, breathe in for 4 seconds

Step 3: Hold for the count of 7 seconds.

Step 4: Breathe out through your mouth with pursed lips for the count of 8 seconds.

This completes 1 set. Complete 4 - 5 sets per session.

The video below will guide you through this exercise.



Final thoughts

Remember, you can always trigger a euphoric state of relaxation by simply changing your breathing patterns. If you ever feel anxious or find it difficult to concentrate while working remotely, take a short break and complete any of the exercises above. The path to a relaxed state of mind is always within reach, and it's absolutely free. 

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