Just breathe: Stress less with these helpful tips

19 April 2023

Stress is a natural physical and mental reaction to life experiences, and it’s something we all experience at one time or another.

A little bit of stress, called “eustress,” is good and helps stimulate us so we can perform daily activities and can enhance productivity. This is the kind of stress that helps us overcome challenges and meet deadlines at work when the pressure’s on, but too much stress can have the opposite effect. This negative stress, known as “distress,” can cause problems not only for our performance at work, but also our overall physical and mental health.

April is National Stress Awareness month, so it’s a great time to be proactive about managing your stress levels. Having healthy coping strategies in place, such as breathing exercises, can help you find relief at home, the office or anywhere else you encounter stress.  

Try these breathing exercises to relieve stress

Practicing one breathing exercise per day can increase energy, lower blood pressure, improve immunity and increase calmness. Inhaling through your nose deeply into your gut and contracting upon exhalation is known as diaphragmatic breathing. Deep diaphragmatic breathing at approximately 5-7 breaths per minute is recommended for stress reduction.

For the following breathing exercises, place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Make sure your stomach is rising with each breath and contracting naturally as you exhale. Exhaling is connected to the parasympathetic nervous system, responsible for helping us to relax and calm down.

  • The 4-7-8 deep breathing technique is also referred to as the relaxing breath. Inhale through your nose for four seconds, hold the breath for seven seconds, and exhale through your mouth for eight seconds
  • For the box breathing technique, inhale through your nose for four seconds, hold the breath for four seconds, exhale through your mouth for four seconds, hold your breath for four seconds, and repeat

What else works for lowering stress?

Other effective stress management activities include practicing meditation, mindfulness and yoga, limiting time spent on social media, connecting with friends and family, spending time outdoors and exercising.

Stress levels tend to fluctuate and can be high at times. Concentrate on what is under your control and remember to breathe, laugh, play and rest.

Labcorp’s health coaching programs can bring a transformative journey to greater well-being right into the workplace. Our team of healthcare professionals supports participants in making positive, sustainable lifestyle changes to help them lead their best lives both inside and outside of the office. Contact us to learn more.