Breathwork Techniques You Can Do in the Office

Von C. Holbrook
April 19, 2024
10 minutes

Breathwork is a popular stress-relieving technique and there are breathwork techniques that you can do in the office. For that matter, you can perform these breathwork techniques anywhere or anytime. You can even do them at your desk at work when workday stress begins to overwhelm you.

The way breathwork techniques works is by reversing causes of physical stress such as rapid breathing. In doing so, it tricks your body into a relaxed state, reduces your heart rate, reduces your cortisol levels and gives you a feeling of calm and relax.

Some breathwork exercises are more suitable for the office than others. These include:

Deep Breathing

Deep breathing is one of the simplest, most intuitive breathwork exercises. It is ideal for relieving stress at work. Here are the steps involved:

  1. Breathe in through your nose allowing your stomach to expand with air
  2. Put one hand on your chest and the other on your belly as you inhale. Your stomach should rise more than your chest
  3. Exhale slowly through your nose feeling your belly compress
  4. Repeat three times

4-7-8 Breathing

4-7-8 breathing was developed by Dr. Andrew Weil, founder of the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine. It is said to improve sleep quality and reduce stress. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Breathe through your nose while counting to 4, your belly should expand as you inhale
  2. Hold your breath for a count of seven
  3. Inhale slowly while counting to eight
  4. Repeat four times

Equal Breaths

Equal breathing establishes balance. It relaxes the central nervous system, boosts concentration, and reduces stress. It involves inhaling and exhaling in equal measures. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Breathe in for a slow count of five
  2. Exhale for a slow count of five
  3. Repeat for several minutes
  4. Note: A count of five is a good starting point. You can increase your count as you go depending on your comfort level

Breath Focus

Breath focus allows you to focus on your breathing and push negative thoughts out of your mind. It reduces blood pressure and improves sleep quality. It is recommended in reducing symptoms of PTSD and trauma. It Involves:

  1. Take a few deep breaths while visualizing inhaling calmness and positive thoughts
  2. Exhale while imaging letting out negativity and stress
  3. Continue for several minutes

The Implications of Stress at the Workplace

Research indicates that most Americans attribute stress to their work environment. They cite tight deadlines, co-worker relations, a lack of job security, and an overload of work as the major sources. Stress takes a toll on mental health, but it also has other repercussions. Here are some statistics to consider:

  • Stress reduces productivity. Workers lose 15-30 minutes a day in productivity due to stress. 34% of workers lose an hour or more of productivity a day due to stress. Just 24% of workers report their productivity is unaffected by stress.
  • Stress leads to mental and physical disorders that lead to increased absences. 54% of workers say they miss 1 to 2 days of work a year due to stress. 31% miss 3 to 6 days a year for stress-related reasons. 15% miss more than 6 days of work a year because of stress.

In addition to taking a toll on employees, stress also hurt employers. Businesses suffer when workers aren’t productive. Absences also costs companies money.

A Kronus US Executive Summary points out that losses accounted for 20.9% to 22.1% of the payroll. This includes time-off expenses, including wages and salaries for paid time off, payment for replacement workers and productivity losses. Statistics indicate that employees would benefit from encouraging stress-relieving exercises in the workplace such as meditation and breathwork.

How to Beat Stress at the Workplace

Establish a Work-Life Balance: You can keep work-related stress at bay by detaching yourself from the workplace when you are at home. Avoid looking at work emails or taking work phone calls when during time off. Create boundaries to minimize stress.

Talk to Your Employer: A talk with your employer should not be used to lay out a list of complaints. Rather, it should be a productive conversation to discuss ways to make the workplace more relaxing. You may suggest integrating meditation or providing other outlets that reduce stress.

Take a Walk: A quick walk around the block may be just what you need to relieve stress. You may be afraid that you will lose productivity by being away from the office. But research suggests that a bout of movement will cause you to return to work with increased focus and concentration.

Let Hanu Help!

The Hanu Health app is a recommended stress-reducing tool. You can use the data and insights to avoid stressors or come up with healthier coping mechanisms.