3 Easy Breathwork Techniques to Restore Calm
By Caryn Gehlmann
You’ve probably heard about the benefits of meditating, but have you heard of breathwork? Breathwork is similar to meditation in that it relies on the body, rather than the mind, to do the work of calming. As overloaded as our minds can be — managing the “regular” stressors of life combined with the “extra” stressors of a pandemic — maybe it’s time to give your body the opportunity to calm you down by giving breathwork techniques a try.
Studies have shown that breathwork, particularly diaphragmatic breathing, can help reduce anxiety, depression, and stress. Did you know that breathing is the only autonomic nervous system function under our control?
Think about how you breathe when you’re frightened or under high stress? Most of us take quick, shallow breaths. It’s our body’s way of getting us ready for fight or flight.
Now think about how you breathe when you’re incredibly relaxed, you take long, slow breaths.
You have the power to flip the switch, and it only takes a few minutes. This is a DIY you can do in your car after you go to the grocery store, during a short break at work, or in the middle of the night when you just can’t stop your brain from churning.
Breathwork Technique #1
Breathwork signals your brain that you’re safe, and your body can let its guard down. The first breathwork technique I use is a simple 3-step process for deep breathing:
Inhale…Bring yourself into the awareness of the present moment.
Pause….Enjoy the stillness.
Now, the key is to take deep, slow breaths, visualize filling up the lower part of your lungs just above your belly button like a balloon, and then exhale slowly.
Breathwork Technique #2
Lakita Dunkers, one of e3’s most experienced aromatherapists, has been using a new breathing technique recently, called box breathing or 4-4-4-4 breathing. It’s a well-known technique for people with high-stress jobs who often find their bodies in fight-or-flight mode.
The box breathing method involves:
Sitting with your back supported in a comfortable chair and your feet on the floor.
Close your eyes. Count to four slowly while you breathe in through your nose. Feel the air enter your lungs.
Count to four slowly while you hold your breath inside. There’s no need to clamp your mouth shut, just try to avoid inhaling or exhaling for 4 seconds.
Count to four as you slowly exhale.
Repeat at least three times or until you feel more calm and centered.
You can find more tips and a video demonstration in this article by Medical News Today, What is box breathing?
Breathwork Technique #3 — Add Aromatherapy
The right essential oil can enhance your breathwork. When it’s a scent you enjoy, you’re more likely to take a deeper breath. Essential oils can also provide an additional layer of calmness. So take some time to explore different scents, and find the essential oil or blend that elicits that “Ahhhhh” response. You’ll know it when you feel it, your whole body will respond!
Now you may be wondering how to integrate essential oils into breathwork. When you’re giving yourself a breathing break simply…
- Add essential oil or blend to a cotton ball or tissue. (Psst… you can put the tissue in a pocket or even tuck it into your bra)
- Use an aromatherapy inhaler
- Apply essential oil or blend to your wrist using a roll-on
Some favorite e3 blends for breathwork include Meditate, Serenity, Peace, and our new blends Harmony and Zen. However, everyone is different so it’s important to “listen to your nose.” Maybe you’d like to create your own unique blend? We’re here to help you get started. Download our free guide, The Art and Science of Blending Essential Oils.