5 Breathing Techniques That Induce A State Of Relaxation

Breathing exercises have long been a technique for relaxation.

In fact many times, people intuitively make changes to their breathing patterns in order to calm down when encountering a state of high tension and anxiety.

When you are mindfully aware that you can incorporate breathing techniques anywhere at anytime, it can have a great impact on how well you manage stress.

What can bad breathing do to you?

If you don’t know why you should practice good breathing, consider some of the consequences of bad breathing.

  • Less oxygen the blood carries in the body
  • Less oxygen to brain
  • Constriction of blood vessels
  • Blood pressure spike
  • Heart rate accelerate

Do you need more convincing?

While there are people out there who have mastered the art of breathing well, the odds are that you are not one of those. It’s the pros like musicians and athletes that have it nailed down simply because it’s a job requirement.

Evaluating your breathing

The key to good breathing is the… belly. Or tummy as some might call it.

Look into the mirror and notice your body shape and posture when breathing. If your chest expands and shoulders rise while inhaling, you are not exactly getting it right.

In many circles, you will only be getting it right when the part of your body that expands when inhaling is your belly.

Do this exercise:

  1. Lie flat on your back
  2. Put on hand on your belly, and other other on your chest
  3. Start breathing as per normal

The “right” scenario is that the hand on your belly should rise as you inhale and unrise (is there such a word?) when you exhale.

The hand on the chest should hardly move at all. If it does rise and fall, the amount of it’s movement should be much less than the movement observed on the hand on the belly.

Now that you’ve realized that you need a little help to become more of a professional breather, it’s time to get on the battlefield.

Breathing for beginners

I strongly suggest that you take baby steps.

After all, you have probably been using the same breathing patterns for decades. It’s not realistic to expect a change in breathing patterns as if flipping a switch.

Only move on to advanced techniques once you have mastered the level for beginners and novices.

  1. Find a comfortable place and either sit or lie down
  2. Put one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest
  3. Using only your nose, inhale with the goal of seeing the hand on the belly rise and hardly any movement on the hand on the chest
  4. Take 3 seconds to inhale each breath slowly
  5. Take another 3 seconds to exhale gently through your nostrils and mouth while noticing your hand positions again
  6. Repeat till your body feels relaxed

I remember a time when I used this stress-busting technique while waiting at a reception for a panel interview. I calmed down and started dishing out my arsenal to the interviewers in that room. I got offered the job later that same day.

Advanced Breathing

It can sound really odd to read about starter and advanced levels of breathing. But you might be better able to see why after seeing this.

  1. Lie down on a bed
  2. Place one hand on your abdomen and the other on your chest
  3. Slowly inhale and feel the air gush in through your nose, then to the lungs, and then the chest
  4. While inhaling, feel the air enter the body, your diaphragm move down, and abdomen extending
  5. Notice that most of the movements on your hands should be on the one placed on the abdomen
  6. Exhale slowly via the nose and mouth while executing a gentle blow as if blowing out air
  7. The hand on the abdomen should fall at this point
  8. Repeat for at least 10 minutes or until you achieve desired state of relaxation

In the world of holistic therapy, the above steps is how a taking a complete breath should be conducted. It’s also know as zen-breathing in some circles.

While this can seem a little extreme compared to what you are used to. It can become a natural way of breathing with more practice.

A more creative approach to this

I can understand if some readers find all these a little too boring.

Well… good thing that we are creative beings 😀

Imagine that a small balloon resides just under you belly button.

And every breath you take in is with the objective of inflating this balloon. As air is pumped into this tiny balloon, you belly button should rise. Then as you exhale, visualize the balloon being deflated which causes your belly to fall.


After writing this, I realized that this could sound much more simpler than it really is. Maybe it should go to the beginner section?

Breathing in the heat of the moment

The techniques discussed above all require you to rest either in a seated or lying position. What if the circumstances when you really need to relax don’t allow you such comfort?

There are various situations where such scenarios can play out:

  • Argument with road bullies
  • Decision time when the person at the counter asks whether you want an upsize
  • Being put on the spot in team meetings
  • Making a big mistake during a major presentation
  • etc

In these emergencies, here’s what you can do.

  1. Inhale slowly, deeply, and fully
  2. Feel your diaphragm rise, lungs expand, and cheeks puff
  3. Hold that breath for 5 or 6 seconds
  4. Exhale slowly and releasing every once of air through your nose and lips
  5. Pause, and then breath as per normal
  6. Repeat of necessary

This exercise can be useful for quick impromptu fixes. But they have no long term positive effects.

The natural breathing trick

Mother nature has a gift for all of us regarding breathing techniques to relief stress and anxiety.

It is the… yawn.

Don’t laugh. This is not a joke.

Yawning is the body’s way of getting more oxygen intake to revitalize the bloodstream. When you feel stress, one of the body’s reflex is to alleviate that stress by sending a signal to the brain for it to yawn.

The problem these days is that people don’t yawn naturally anymore. Whenever we feel one coming, we don’t give it the full effort it truly deserves because yawning is perceived as a form of rudeness in modern society.

These days, especially in public places, yawns are more like meows :S

When you are at home, or if you are an obnoxious individual, go all out the next time you yawn.

  1. Open you mouth as widely as you possibly can
  2. Gulp down as much air as your lungs allow
  3. Take that air all the way into your belly
  4. Then let it out with pleasure, emptying your lungs
  5. Don’t forget to release that sound that comes with yawning

You deserve the best. Don’t let a little social pressure affect your stress management regime.

Meditation – How To Combat Stress With Emptiness

Even with all the screen time meditation has enjoyed on the big screen these days, a huge number of people in general are still skeptical about what it can do.

And even today, a huge number of people who meditate still get ridiculed by their peers. Painting them in the picture of gurus sitting on flying carpets.

While all these are just fun and just a little social banter, meditation is really starting to get the respect it deserves in the modern world. And more and more people are starting to believe that the world is not all made up of tangible matter, but also all-connected by intangible forces that science is too young to understand.

The universe exist as one.

The overwhelming odds are that you have attempted to mediate at some point in life even if you have always been a fierce nonbeliever.

You might not be aware of it. But in the past when you have managed to consciously calm your mind, narrow your focus, and block out all the “noise” as if they don’t exist, you are definitely doing something resembling meditation.

How did meditation come about?

Meditation has been in practice for thousands of years. And because we often see them being practiced by kung-fu masters for inner peace, monks for enlightenment, spiritual leaders for zen and metaphysical practitioners for divine intervention, it is somehow inscribed into our minds that it originate from the East.

The accuracy of it’s origin is up to debate.

But as the decades went by, and as more and more Asian culture get exposure in the western world, meditation is slowly getting widespread acceptance. And still growing.

What can meditation do for you?

On the surface, meditation will help you calm your mind and relax you body. This is pretty much enough positives for someone trying to manage the excessive stress modern society has put on our shoulders.

But there is even more substance in it below the surface.

New-age philosophy has put meditation right at the forefront of happiness.

It is now generally acknowledged as one of the corner stones of inner peace, gratification, contentment, consciousness and sub-consciousness, etc. And this is without mentioning various religions that are throwing their weight at it.

With practice, meditation is known to dissipate stress, promote a tenseless mind, relax muscles, that effectively results in you feeling rejuvenated, rested, and reinvigorated.

How difficult is it to meditate?

It might seem like meditating is just sitting down and closing you eyes. But surely you cannot imagine that it is as easy as this.

This is because the work that is done is… in your head.

Most people should have little problem with maintaining a clear mind for a few seconds. But it can astound you to learn that about 98% of people generally cannot focus on “emptiness” for as much as 30 seconds!

This means that the real challenge, the part where almost everybody fails, is sustaining such a mental state of Nothingness for an extended period of time.

  • This can be tough in the modern digitized world where:
  • You get an instant message ever other minute
  • You favorite drama is showing on prime time in 15 minutes
  • The mega annual sale on Amazon kicks-off in 20 minutes
  • etc

However these distractions should not discourage you. Practice makes perfect. You’ll never get to a higher level unless you start with the first step.

If you stick with it, you could soon experience positive results faster than you expect.

Who know… you could be a natural a it.


  1. Find a quiet place that you feel comfortable with
  2. Put your mobile devices in silent mode and leave them in another room
  3. Get in a comfortable sitting position (using a chair is optional)
  4. Focus on a though, word, sound, object, or just emptiness
  5. Maintain the focus and embrace it

Start with a few minutes and slowly progress towards as much as 30 minutes. If you are able to do this for 30 minutes, you are ready for more advanced levels of meditation (which is not discussed here).

To double up on your fight against anxiety, incorporate breathing exercises like breath-counting while you meditate.

The mantra method

A mantra is a word that is repeated perpetually. This word can sometimes take the form of a sound. Applying a mantra into meditation helps you focus better and block out distractions.

The mantra method of mediating is made popular by the countless clips in movies and online of Buddhist monks praying or meditating while mumbling their mantras with their lips.

Here how to adopt it.

  1. Find a quiet spot in the house
  2. Sit on either the floor or a chair
  3. Start doing deep breathing exercises while emptying your mind
  4. Without moving, feel your body and identify areas experiencing tension
  5. Focus on breathing and begin repeating or chanting your mantra
  6. Make use of timing and rhythm for smoother execution

I personally find that it works better when the chanting is not done silently in your head. Do it with a soft volume while moving your lips.

Medication cheats

I get it. We all live busy lives centered around work and other commitments. And just when we get home thinking that it’s time to relax, the responsibilities of being a parent might just tip the stress scale into overload.

Granted. You might not be able to set aside 30 minutes each day solely for meditation.

But remember that doing a little of it is better than not at all. You can always squeeze it in somewhere even if it’s not the ideal manner to do it.

  • In the subway
  • On the bus
  • On the cab
  • A minute in the car after you’ve parked
  • In the hair salon
  • A minute at the table after you’ve finished lunch
  • etc

The truth is that there are many ways and opportunities to meditate within each day. If you live a stressful lifestyle, these mini-breaks might just make a huge difference to how well you keep stress in check.

6 Ways To Tackle Your Tendency To Worry

Everybody worries about something at one point or another. It’s just part of being human.

But if worrying gets too frequent and too intense, it can lead to bigger problems in the long run.

Or even worse… worrying becomes an addiction…

In fact, I’ve just reviewed my day and here’s a list of some of the things I had worried about:

  • I’m running out of bananas and might be left with none tomorrow
  • I checked my email late in the afternoon and wondered if there was anything important sitting in my inbox
  • Dinner was not appetizing and I was scared that my stomach might howl for food later at night
  • I had to wait in the for exceptionally long and was afraid that I was going to miss my favorite TV show

While these worries might seem insignificant, I am aware that people facing stress and anxiety conditions could worry about things much much bigger than I did. And they could be logical issues or radical thoughts.

Here are some simple ways to relief stress and distract yourself from worrying too much.

1) Worry another day

As outrageous as it sounds, you have the power to decide to worry another day. Schedule them for another time slot. You have other things to do anyway.

While the very reasons you are worrying could be something serious like financial concerns, do understand that worrying at 4am in the morning is not going to make any difference to your life.

The odds of a solution popping into your mind when your body is craving for sleep is very small compared to in the day when your body is awake and mind alert.

Set aside a time like tomorrow afternoon from 3pm to 4pm to worry about whatever you intend to worry about.

It’s more productive this way. And you don’t suffer from extra stress you can do without.

2) Exaggerate your worries

If you blow up your worries, you could see the funny side of how ridiculous you are being to yourself.

For example, if you are meeting the parents of your girlfriend tomorrow and afraid of giving a bad account of yourself, humor yourself a little.

Maybe they could find you hilarious and obnoxiously lovable. What’s the worst that could happen?

If you think about the worse that could possibly happen, maybe the stuff you are worrying about is not that scary after all.

3) Listen to music and sing along

This is more of a distraction technique.

Music can be like a magic potion for emotions. It can trigger feelings like happiness, loneliness, sadness, etc.

I myself have a song that gets my adrenaline pumping each time I need motivation. And then there is also a song that makes me tear up by reminding me of a past relationship.

Yet I always forget about music therapy whenever I feel down and out. This is even though I know the positive effects the right song can give me.

Identify you most relaxing songs that strike a chord with you. Keep them on your smart phone. And organize them in a playlist and play them whenever you worry.

While this might only be a temporary stop-gap. It might actually be enough to swing your mind towards something else that you have no worries with.

4) Find nature

Mother nature has it all figured out. She gave us the ocean, rain forests, mountains, and puppies to make us feel the goodness of life.

Then we came along and construct skyscrapers and highways to stress ourselves.

Being with nature is one of the best ways to relax and calm down.

Go to a park. Go on a hiking trail. Go watch and listen to the waves at the nearest beach. Or visit the animal shelter to play with cats and dogs. You might even want to adopt one while you are at it.

When tough times find you, you find nature.

5) Aromatherapy

If you have yet to give aromatherapy a try, you are missing out big time!

The scent of essential oils is just… heavenly.

You don’t even need a burner or a diffuser to pamper you nose with these natural oils. Many of them are harmless to the skin. Dab a drop or two on your wrist and you are set.

Be mindful that some oils can harm the skin. So do ask a salesperson before buying a scent you fancy.

Aromatherapy is not limited to essential oils too. You can try things that give out aroma like:

  • Cookies
  • Apples
  • Soap
  • Coffee
  • etc

You won’t know how well your body responds to these scents until you try them.

6) Candles

There is just something about flickering flames that calms the mind. Maybe science will be able to decipher this miraculous connection in the near future.

Line them up in the bathroom while you sink yourself into the bath tub. Or place them strategically in the living room while you listen to relaxing music.

Before you know it, you would have a much clearer mind… and even think about the moment of creation…

Just be mindful of fire hazards when playing with fire. You are an adult after all. And a fire is just going to give you something extra to worry about.

Heart Diseases – Prevent Early With A Whole Foods Diet

The sooner you begin reducing your risk of heart disease, the better. Remember that each risk factor that you reduce or eliminate lowers your chances of getting heart disease exponentially. Early prevention is about changing your lifestyle and habits to support a healthy circulatory system and a strong heart. Let’s start by taking a look at the role that diet plays in heart health.

The Components of a Heart Healthy Diet

What you put into your body has a direct impact on your health. While the occasional indulgence is okay, a daily diet of indulgences cause problems.

So what is considered an indulgence?

Foods that are high in sugar, saturated fat, cholesterol, and salt are all indulgences. The good news is that these foods are easy to identify. In general an indulgence is a processed food.

A heart healthy diet is a diet that is:

  • Low in salt
  • Low in trans fats
  • Low in saturated fats
  • Low in cholesterol
  • Low in processed sugar

In general, that means if you eat a whole foods diet, you’re on the right track. A whole food is a food that has been processed or refined as little as possible, and is free from additives or other artificial substances.

A whole food breakfast might look like an egg and a piece of fruit or a bowl of oatmeal. A processed breakfast might look like a store-bought muffin or a bowl of cereal. (Cereal made from whole grains with no added sugars may be okay.)

Why Does a Whole Foods Diet Matter?

Whole foods matter because they not only provide your body with what it needs to thrive, it also has nutrients that are proven to lower your risk of heart disease. Yes, when you eat a diet that is rich in:

  • Lean meats
  • Whole grains
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Healthy fats from nuts and seeds

You reduce your risk of heart disease. That’s pretty great, right? Let’s take a look at the two critical components of your diet that impact your heart health, fat and sugar, and what they do for your health.


Fat and sugar impacts your cholesterol levels. Cholesterol is generally reported HDL and LDL. HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein and LDL stands for low-density lipoprotein. High density is “good” cholesterol and LDL is “bad”. It’s easy to remember if you remember LDL is lousy. Your cholesterol may also be reported as a total of LDL and HDL.

Your risk for heart disease increases as your total amount of cholesterol increases.

  • In general, your total cholesterol goal should be less than 200 mg/dl.
  • Your HDL should be higher than 40 mg/dl for men and 50 mg/dl for women. The higher the better for this number!
  • LDL should be less than 130 mg/dl.

Cholesterol is a waxy compound that is found in the cells of your body. Your body actually needs cholesterol to make hormones and some nutrients like vitamin D. However, too much cholesterol can contribute to clogged arteries.

A diet low in cholesterol, saturated and trans fat, and simple sugars will help lower cholesterol levels and reduce your risk for heart disease.

High Blood Pressure

There are many reasons why your blood pressure may be high. It may be due to a hereditary condition. You may be salt sensitive, which means that too much salt can raise your blood pressure.

Dehydration can raise blood pressure as well. In many cases, blood pressure can be controlled through a healthy diet and exercise.

Many physicians recommend what’s often referred to as the DASH diet. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The diet reduces your intake of saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, and alcohol.

It also increases your intake of foods that are rich in minerals such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Generally speaking, if your diet is rich in whole, unprocessed foods, it is both low in cholesterol and also supports a healthy blood pressure.


We’ve already discussed the incredible increase in your risk of heart disease if you have diabetes. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented, controlled, and in many cases it can be eliminated with a healthy diet. It requires you to avoid foods that are high in processed sugars. Again, a whole foods diet doesn’t include any added sugars.

Your diet plays a critical role in your health, including the health of your heart. Simply by cutting back on your processed foods and eating more whole foods, you’ll reduce your risk factors. If you have any of the risk factors already mentioned, it’s time to pay attention to what you eat.

Your priorities include eliminating trans fats, reducing saturated fats, and reducing or eliminating processed sugar. Switch to whole grains and eat more fruits and vegetables. You can change your life and your heart health one good habit at a time.

Speaking of good habits, next let’s take a look at exercise. Diet and exercise combined can help ensure that you have a healthy heart for as long as you live.