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As we head into another winter season in the midst of a global pandemic, many of us may notice an increase in our stress levels. This is a natural response to the challenges we are facing, however long-term stress is bad for your health and can lead to additional side effects such as insomnia. Fortunately, incorporating some simple breathing exercises into your routine is shown to reduce stress and improve sleep. Here are some common and effective methods you can try at home.

Deep Breathing

This exercise is great to use in those moments when you are feeling highly stressed or anxious. Begin by finding a comfortable position either sitting upright with your back supported by a chair, or lying on the ground. Place one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest. Breathe in slowly through the nose, sending the air down into the belly. You should feel your hand on your belly move more than the one on your chest. Breathe out through the nose. Repeat slowly at least 5 times, or more as needed.

Breath Focus

This exercise takes deep breathing one step further. Follow the same steps as in deep breathing, while also closing your eyes. As you breathe in, imagine that the air around you is filled with a sense of peace and calm and try to feel it entering your body with each inhale. As you exhale, visualize the stress and tension leaving your body with your breath. Repeat for 5 – 10 minutes.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

If you are having difficulty sleeping, this breathing technique can be particularly helpful. Begin this exercise with some deep breathing in a comfortable position, preferably lying down. As you slowly breathe in, tense the muscles in your feet. As you breathe out, release the tension. Repeat this process on your next breath with your calf muscles. Continue working your way slowly up the body, tensing each muscle group on every breath, ending with the face.

We hope these simple exercises are helpful, and you will incorporate them into your routine.

The Hamlets at Vernon is an assisted-living and long-term care community in Vernon, BC, Canada. Designed to take the worry out of senior retirement home living and following the tenets of Christianity, The Hamlets at Vernon offers compassionate care in a beautiful environment.

If you have any questions about this article or would like to talk to us about our community, please call us at (236) 426-1488.