How to breathe better
Breathing exercises can help with everything from anxiety and sleep to bad posture. Here’s our quick-fire guide…
Breathing: we all do it, but we don’t all do it right.
Pay attention to how you’re breathing right now. Is your chest expanding and contracting while you take small, shallow ‘sips’ of air? Is your back tensed as your shoulders bob up and down? Did you only just notice you’ve been holding your breath for a while? If so, you might benefit from breath work.
“Breath work is a tool we have right under our nose,” says Rebecca Dennis, a London-based breath coach and author of the book And Breathe (Fearne Cotton’s a fan). “We take our breath for granted, but when we’re conscious of how we’re breathing, we can change how we feel.”
Breath work’s many benefits include reducing stress and anxiety, helping us feel more energised, relaxed or focused, and releasing tension from the body. Sound good? Check out breathing classes in your area – Dennis runs frequent workshops, as does the London-based BreathPod centre. Or find your closest transformational breath facilitator here.
But you don’t have to attend a class to get a handle on good breathing habits. The NHS website has a great guide to stress-busting breathing exercises, while Tom Granger’s new book Draw Breath blends illustration tasks with breathing techniques.
There’s also recently been a boom in breathing apps (in fact, there was a 219% rise in Google searches for breathing apps between 2018 and 2019, according to analysis by Gear Hungry). Stylist Loves’ deputy editor Moya uses the simply-named app Breathe (available on the App Store and Google Play). “It leads you through different techniques for specific situations – my favourite is ‘coherent breathing’, which helps me focus in times of panicky stress.”
Editor Kat, meanwhile, loves the Headspace app. “The free Basics course not only transformed my feelings about mindfulness, it’s also grounded in breath work. It’s been genuinely revelatory for me in stressful situations.” And… breathe.
Can’t quit, won’t quit – but new book Mixed Feelings is helping us feel better about social media
We can find confidence, acceptance and community on the internet – but it’s also a roiling stew of political anger, impossible beauty standards and other people’s glittering careers. Recognise social media’s perils, but can’t see yourself quitting? Read Mixed Feelings.
A collection of essays, research and interviews collated by model Naomi Shimada and journalist Sarah Raphael (including insights from women like Stephanie Yeboah, Phoebe Lovatt and Ruby Tandoh), it’s a candid, nuanced look at the effects of life online. You’ll finish it feeling less alone in your Insta-ambivalence – and empowered to make healthy changes to your digital diet. £16.99, Waterstones
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