Two Grounding Breathing Exercises For When You're Stressed At Work

RYT 200 By Ashley Neese
RYT 200
Ashley Neese is a Los Angeles-based breathwork teacher and the author of How to Breathe: 25 Simple Practices for Calm, Joy, and Resilience. She has studied with some of the world’s leading masters in yoga, meditation, medical intuition and somatic therapy, and also has her bachelor's and master's in printmaking from the Atlanta College of Art and California College of the Arts, respectively.

Image by W2 Photography / Stocksy

The pace and demands of modern work life are a big cause of day-to-day stress, and a recent survey revealed that money and stress, which are often intertwined, are the main sources of stress in America.

This same survey also found that 80% of working people feel stress on the job, and half of them need help in managing stress. Alleviating stress through holistic practices such as breathwork is essential, as unmanaged chronic stress can lead to a host of mind and body issues including anxiety, depression, digestive disorders, low immune function, sleep difficulty, weight gain, and loss of cognitive ability.

Although we may know collectively that chronic stress is terrible for us in the short and long term, the overarching cultural ideal that being busy, exhausted, or super stressed equals success makes it difficult to take positive action. Thankfully, more people are sharing the real and detrimental effects of work-related stress and offering holistic solutions.

We know it's not always easy or practical to find a low-stress job. It's also true that even when we're doing work that we love, it can be stressful at times. Rather than thinking we need to change our jobs or careers this instant, we can begin adopting effective breathwork practices to reduce our stress while at work, and these benefits could carry over into other aspects of our lives.

As a breathwork teacher who has taught A-list celebrities with very demanding work schedules and top-level CEOs at the nation's largest news networks, I can assure you that incorporating a breathwork practice into your daily work routine will make a difference in your stress levels. These practices, adapted from my book How To Breathe, are designed to bring your nervous system from a heightened state of stress to one of ease and regulation. When you're able to hit the pause button on your day for even a few rounds of slower, conscious breathing, you'll find greater clarity and a sense of calm.

1. Five-breath grounding practice

If you have to prepare for a difficult conversation with a boss or co-worker or have a tendency to feel out of your body before getting in front of a large crowd, this grounding practice is a great way to help you get in tune with your body's messages and find more balance:

  1. Stand up.
  2. Place your feet on the ground, hip distance apart.
  3. Press each foot into the floor one at a time.
  4. Take five deep breaths in through your nose and long exhales out of your mouth.
  5. Notice how you feel afterward.
  6. Repeat for as many rounds as needed to bring yourself into a grounded, regulated state.
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2. Five-breath alignment practice

We all have times when our mind is racing and it's difficult to concentrate, and for some this can go on for hours. This alignment breathing practice will help calm those racing thoughts so you can direct your energy toward the present moment.

  1. Seated or standing.
  2. Take a deep inhale through your nose while counting from 1 to 5.
  3. Exhale through your nose while counting from 5 to 1.
  4. Repeat this five times and become aware of where your mind lands.
  5. Practice up to two more rounds as needed.

Whether you're currently experiencing stress at work or not, giving these breathing practices a try a few times a week or even daily will show your body that this level of calm is achievable and quite enjoyable. That way, when the stressful times do come, you'll know what to do.

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