The last few weeks of each semester in college can be stressful, particularly if you happen to be a senior and graduation is looming: there are tests to study for, jobs to apply for, packing to do and certification exams to take. If the stress is starting to get to you, one simple way you can begin to relax is by trying out different breathing and meditation methods. It may sound cheesy, but this stuff really works. After all, what won’t you try to ease the stress of finals week?
If this is your first time trying out breathing exercises, this is an easy one with which to begin. Equal breathing can be done anywhere – in the chair of your desk at the library, on your couch or even in bed (in fact, it’s particularly effective for helping people fall asleep). All you need to do is close your eyes, inhale for four counts, exhale for four counts and repeat. The balanced and rhythmic breathing will calm you down and improve your focus. Once you’ve tried the equal breathing method a few times, begin to gradually increase your rhythm to six or eight counts per breath.
Another great breathing exercise for beginners, belly breathing is a fantastic stress reliever – try it before your next exam. Sit in a comfortable position, placing one hand on your chest and the other on your belly, just below your ribs. Take a deep breath through your nose, pushing your hand out with your belly. Make sure your chest doesn’t move. When you release the breath, purse your lips. Repeat up to 10 times, and be sure not to rush each breath. Performing this exercise for 10 minutes per day can reduce your blood pressure and heart rate, leading to a healthier, happier, stress-free you.
A favorite among yoga enthusiasts, yogic breathing requires just a few simple rules: be aware of your breathing and find your natural rhythm. All you’ll need to do is find a comfortable sitting position. Close your eyes, and pay attention to the movement of air in and out of your nose without changing your breathing pattern. Let your breath get into a natural rhythm, and simply observe for two minutes. It’s OK if your mind wanders, just make sure it always returns to your breathing.