3 Breathing Exercises to Try at Work

by Jessica Petrucci

Everyone faces stress at work. Whether you are dealing with tight deadlines, unhappy clients, difficult coworkers or any other day-to-day work stress, it can be helpful to sit still for a second, close your eyes, and take a deep breath. 

Although most of us know that meditation can help relieve stress, we very rarely sit and meditate for even 5 minutes during the workday. Here are 3 breathing exercises you can do at your desk to help alleviate some of your workday stress. 

1) Breath Observation

Although it might sound too easy, focusing on your breath is a common mindfulness meditation. You can begin just by noticing the breath and not altering it in any way. Become aware of how the breath is flowing and where you are feeling it move in your body. Be aware of the details:how does your nose feel? What is the temperature of the air? Anything you notice is good. By being with your breath for a few moments, you tend to be able to let go of the things happening around you and be present within yourself. Breath observation is a great way to melt away the stresses of the office.

2) Belly Breathing

Get comfortable by sitting upright in your chair. Make sure your back is nice and straight against the back of your chair; you can even rest your head back on your chair to get more comfortable. Start to pay attention to your breath. Can you feel any breath filling up your belly? A lot of the time when we get stressed, the breath is only filling the chest.

Place your hand over your navel. Slow your inhale and really fill your belly with breath, letting your navel rise, so your belly extends out. On the exhale, bring the navel in towards the spine. When you feel like your belly is empty, really squeeze the navel in before you take your next inhale. Do this for about a minute (or as long as you need to) to invoke the relaxation response.

3) Alternate Nostril Breathing

Ok, this one might look a bit weird at your desk, but it works! This technique is said to increase mental focus and lower blood pressure. To try this breath, get comfortable in your chair and bring your right hand up to your nose. Place your thumb on your right nostril and your ring finger on your left nostril. Let your other fingers close into your hand softly. Inhale into the left nostril, gently blocking the right nostril with the thumb. Then, block the left nostril and exhale through the right. Inhale through the right, then close it. Exhale through the left to complete one round of breathing. It is recommended that you complete 3-5 cycles of this breath at a time. 

Trying these breathing exercises at work can not only impact your mood during the day, but can also increase your overall health. Research suggests a link between chronic stress and chronic disease and alterations in the gut microbiota of people with stress-related disorders like anxiety. So the next time you are stressed at work, think about your brain, gut, and body. Take a second to breath for your health.

For more breathing exercises and how they can help positively impact your life, check out the Yoga Journal

About the Author

Photo: Jessica Petrucci

Jessica Petrucci has a background in biotechnology and is a certified yoga instructor. As a collegiate athlete, fitness has always been an important part of Jessica’s life. She takes a holistic approach to health, encompassing mind, body, and spirit. Coming from a place of personal experience, Jessica has seen how lifestyle and stress can take a toll on gut health and overall wellness. She strives to help others realize that, by living a well-balanced lifestyle, they can be the best and healthiest versions of themselves.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Interested in learning more about Ixcela? Check out Ixcela’s microbiome test, personalized nutrition and fitness plans, and other tools to help you optimize your health.