This exercise could relieve stress and calm you down in a matter of minutes.

Feeling anxious? Take a long deep breath. Did it or does that even work? It all depends on how you do it. There are a lot of anti-stress relieving breathing techniques out there that seek to reduce stress and anxiety. However, we’ve got one for you to try and see how effective it is as compared to the others. Alright, dear friends, let’s breathe — resonantly.

Resonant Breathing 101

Taking a few deep breaths can really work off a stress day. Focus breathing is not a new revolutionary discovery in aerobics. According to a 2017 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicinecoherent or resonant breathing is a stress relieving technique really good for combating major depressive disorders.

“We wanted to identify a short program that could be quickly given to people, that they would have immediate relief within five or ten minutes, and that over time would produce long-term changes,” says led author Patricia Gerbarg, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at New York Medical College, in an interview with TONIC.

Just Breathe

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Here’s how to do it: take five breaths per minute, and keep going until you feel relieved. What this means is that, for every inhale (breathe in), it will last roughly six seconds, and every exhale (breathe out), will also last six seconds. Ta-da! Another thing you’re to take note is how you breathe. Take it as easy as possible. Gently. Don’t force it.

The goal of resonance breathing is to balance two of your nervous systems: the sympathetic nervous system (that’s responsible for your “fight” or “flight” response) versus your parasympathetic nervous system (that’s responsible for slowing your heart rate down, among other things).

Last but not least, remember not to count down as you breathe, not aloud nor use any visual cues to keep track of time. This could make the process easier for your sympathetic system. When you’re done, remember to record how long you lasted, as you might want to replicate it again.

Breathe Your Stress Away

According to Gerbarg and her husband, Richard Brown, an associate professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, this super yet simple breathing exercise has proven to be effective than it seems. The couple have clinically applied this exercise to their patients with even severe mental disorders. These include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) sufferers from genocides, wars, earthquakes, tsunamis, and other mass disasters.

In the 2017 study, a team of researchers that included Gerbarg and Brown, 30 participants who were deemed as having major depressive disorder, were assigned to resonant breathing and lyengar yoga to follow for three months. As it turns out, the depressive symptoms in the participants had drastically dropped — as measured by a standard depression inventory test.

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“Respiration is the only autonomic function we can voluntarily control,” Gerbarg says.

So it is really important not to change your pattern of breath, as this could shift any signal your brain receives. This could calm your nerves, anxiety, or even alter your thoughts. So if you ever get stressed at work, pause for a minute, or two, to breathe. But remember, just take it easy.

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Written by: Nana Kwadwo, Thu, Jul 04, 2019.