2 Breathing Techniques That Reduce Stress

If your mind is racing trying to finish your work, and you’re thinking of what you need to grab on the way home for dinner, and making sure you made that phone call, and and and…You need a breather. Literally. Try one of these breathing techniques to reduce stress without leaving your desk.

The first technique is called “equal breathing” and is common in yoga practice. It’s simple: Breathe in for a count of four (count to yourself), and then breathe out for an equal count of four. Focus on keeping the count. Focusing on the count, experts say, can take your mind off of stressors. As you continue breathing, consider saying a mantra or incantation as you exhale. Choose a phrase that goes with a four-count that will help motivate you—something like, “Everything is coming together.” Or “All the focus I need is inside of me.” Say your phrase aloud through your last few breaths, and return to work refreshed and motivated.

The second technique can also help you regain focus when a laundry list of tasks has your mind racing in many directions. To do it, lightly grip your nose using your thumb and ring finger. Your thumb should be on one nostril, your ring finger on the other. Release your thumb so that your ring finger blocks the other nostril, and breathe in through one nostril. After you breathe in, pinch your nose for one second. Then release with your ring finger and breathe out through that nostril, holding the other closed with your thumb. Then reverse the order: Breathe in through the ring nostril, and out through the thumb side.

Concentrating on this process takes more focus than you might imagine—helping you clear your mind from one million tasks down to just one. When you’re finished, you’ll be ready to put that laser focus in one place—the next task you’re going to conquer.