Studying and revising for repeat examinations can be stressful. Don’t allow yourself to get worked up and wait until fight-or-flight kicks in. Controlled breathing not only keeps your mind and body functioning at their best, it can also lower blood pressure, promote feelings of calm and relaxation, and help you de-stress.
Consider these four tried and tested techniques to help keep calm and carry on.
1. Equal Breathing:
To start, inhale for a count of four, then exhale for a count of four (all through the nose). For a little extra challenge, you can aim for six to eight counts per breath with the same goal in mind. This technique will help calm the nervous system, decrease your heart rate and increase your focus.
This is one technique that’s especially effective before bed.
2. Abdominal Breathing Technique:
With one hand on the chest and the other on the belly, take a deep breath in through the nose, ensuring the diaphragm (not the chest) inflates with enough air to create a stretch in the lungs. Aim for 6-10 deep, slow breaths per minute for 10 minutes each day to experience immediate reductions to heart rate and blood pressure.
3. Progressive Muscle Relaxation:
This is a great technique for reducing tension from head to toe. Sit in a comfortable chair or lie down, close your eyes and focus on tensing/clenching and relaxing each muscle group in your body for two to three seconds each. Start with the feet and toes, then move up to the knees, thighs, glutes, chest, arms, hands, neck, jaw, and eyes—all while maintaining deep, slow breaths.
4. Alternative Nostril Breathing:
A super technique for waking yourself up when you're feeling drowsy or dull, this will help unite the right and left sides of the brain. Sitting comfortably, hold the right thumb over the right nostril and inhale deeply through the left nostril. At the peak of inhalation, close off the left nostril with the ring (4th) finger, then exhale through the right nostril. Continue the pattern, inhaling through the right nostril, closing it off with the right thumb, and exhaling through the left nostril.