Relaxation breathing can improve your grades and overall health

June 18, 2021

Relaxation breathing is a way of breathing that can help calm your mind and body. The goal of relaxation breathing is to refocus your attention from upsetting thoughts (e.g., I am going to lose the race; I’ll fail the exam) and unpleasant physical sensations (e.g., feeling sick, short of breath) to something else that is not upsetting (e.g., your breathing). 
Learning how to use relaxation breathing to calm down and destress is not hard. It will take some practice, but you’ll notice a difference very quickly. Research shows that most people experience the benefits of relaxation breathing with about 15 minutes a day of practice in less than 14 days. 

Math made easier 

One research study found that students with high math anxiety were less anxious, did better on the tests, and reported feeling calmer when they practiced relaxation breathing before writing their math test. Other studies have shown that relaxation breathing and mindfulness can reduced sad and anxious moods and even improve your overall health.

To master relaxation breathing, you’ll have to learn how to: (a) breathe slowly and (b) stay focused on your breathing:

Before you start a relaxation breathing exercise, find a quiet place where you can practice this skill five days a week at about the same time. Ideally, find an upright chair where you can sit comfortably. Have your feet on the floor and hands on your lap.
Learning how to breathe slowly
  1. Make sure you are sitting in an upright position. Your back should be straight and you should not be slouching.
  2. To start, take one big, deep breath in through your nose.
  3. Then, exhale through your nose slowly and comfortably. Try to go as slowly as you can, making sure you feel comfortable. Exhale for about four or five seconds if possible. When you think that you have almost emptied your lungs, try pushing out the last amount of air slowly. But remember, the goal is to stay comfortable. Don’t overdo it.
  4. After you have emptied your lungs, pause and hold your breath for about 3 seconds or less if it feels uncomfortable. Always go slowly and make sure it feels comfortable.
  5. Next, start inhaling through your nose, filling your lungs slowly (keeping your shoulders more or less still). When you inhale, your chest and abdomen (i.e., the top part of your stomach) should fill with air. Inhale as slowly as you can, for about 5 seconds, or as long as you feel comfortable.
  6. Aim for 15 repetitions of the steps 2 to 5. It takes only about 5 minutes to do the entire routine of 15 repetitions.
Learning to focus on your breathing
The next skill you’ll have to learn is to focus your attention as long as possible on your breathing. Repeat steps 2 to 5 from the previous exercise, but this time, try to notice when you become distracted while breathing. As soon as your attention drifts off, try to refocus on your breathing. At first, you’ll discover that your mind will wander off shortly after you start focusing on your breathing. Your task is to practice noticing the moment in which you drift away and quickly refocus your attention on your breathing.
Aim for 15 repetitions of relaxation breathing routine you just learned. You can try to extend the amount of time that you spend exhaling, pausing and inhaling, but only if it feels comfortable.

Using relaxation breathing as often as possible

Don’t forget to use relaxation breathing any time you feel stressed out, worried or are overwhelmed with negative thoughts. You don’t have to sit down. Whether you are writing a test, riding the bus, or having an argument stop for a moment, focus on your breathing and perform the inhale/exhale/pause routine you learned. Even if you can’t do 15 rounds of relaxation breathing, a few deep breaths may still be enough to do the trick.
Try to make relaxation breathing a part of your morning routine. You’ll be more relaxed when you start your day and more likely to remember to use it during the day. If you can’t fall asleep, because you keep replaying worries over and over again, give relaxation breathing a try. It will slow down your busy mind and relax your body. Remember, take a deep breath, try to exhale for about 5 seconds, pause for 3 seconds, and then again, inhale for about 5 seconds. Stay focused on your breathing, and you’ll be asleep before you know.
Try to use relaxation breathing and mindfulness:
  • At the start of every day
  • Just before a presentation or test
  • During a test
  • When the amount of work that you have to do is overwhelming
  • When your worries turn in to a flood that you cannot stop
  • When you cannot stop the avalanche of negative thoughts
  • When you are trying to fall asleep and just cannot stop running the list of things to do
  • When you wake up in the middle of the night and cannot settle back down. 



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