7 Surprising Breathing Exercises to Instantly Reduce Stress
Conscious breathing, cellular breathing, and other easy techniques to feel calmer
Air is vital to our survival. But when we find ourselves facing extraordinary levels of stress, as is today’s daily norm, it can be difficult to catch our breath.
Stress can feel suffocating. And eight months into this so-called new normal, individuals and communities are inevitably struggling to hold on to air. A recent poll by the American Psychological Association shows that more than a third of Americans (36%) say the pandemic is having a serious impact on their mental health. Nearly 60% say it is seriously affecting their day-to-day lives and negatively affecting their finances. And two-thirds fear that the confluence of related pandemic and social issues will have long-term consequences for the economy.
A review of the psychological effects of quarantine and studies on disaster mental health confirm these self-reports. Common symptoms include anxiety, depression, irritability, insomnia, fear, confusion, anger, frustration, boredom, and stigma — some of which often continue post-quarantine. Further studies show how unhealthy behaviors, such as excessive alcohol and substance abuse, risk-taking, and suicide tend to skyrocket following major traumatic events.
A Single Deep Breath Is the Quickest Way to Relieve Stress
It’s a great way to stimulate the vagus nerve — and induce a state of calm
Struggling to hold onto air is something I understand well. I am a triple heart attack survivor thanks to a condition called spontaneous coronary arterial dissection (SCAD). SCAD is rare, generally speaking, but it happens to be the most common heart attack that women younger than 50 experience. My first two attacks occurred a week apart when I was 33 years old. After three days of gasping for breath, never imagining I was in the midst of a heart attack because I was otherwise healthy and had no risk factors or family history, I stumbled into the ER, where an EKG confirmed that I was in serious trouble.