Working from Home: 3 Simple Breathing Techniques for Increased Productivity

To work from home often means you spend hours in front of a computer, completely absorbed in your work. Feeling too anxious to meet deadlines, you may experience a rapid heartbeat, your jaws and shoulders getting tense, your breath becoming shallow and shorter and shorter. After a few hours of intense concentration, you start feeling fatigued and distracted. It is easy to literally forget to breathe when you are so focused on working. It is easy to overwork yourself as you stop paying attention to proper breathing when you work from home.

Deep breathing - taking in sufficient oxygen and releasing toxic carbon dioxide - is essential for a healthy and stress-free lifestyle. And having a stress-free life is probably one of the main reasons why you decided to build your home office and start working from home. Right? The truth is your breathing has a profound effect on your physical and emotional health. In the long run, shallow breathing may lead to cardiovascular disease, insomnia, high blood pressure, indigestion, various infections as well as depression, anxiety and decreased productivity.

So, reclaim your physical and mental health and practice deep breathing exercises. While it is very easy to learn, these exercises are extremely powerful. They have been documented to reverse body’s natural reaction to stressful conditions and help effectively manage negative emotions as well as physical pain. When you learn to take deep, slow breaths fresh oxygen pours into every cell in your body, your muscles relax and your blood pressure lowers. Deep breathing detoxifies and releases toxins from the body and triggers the release of endorphins, pleasure-inducing neurochemicals in the brain, that elevate mood and relieve physical pain. Proper breathing also relaxes the mind and brings clarity, boosts energy levels and improves stamina. And that's what you need when you are trying to make living by working from home.

Put your lunch break to better use and do breathing exercises

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1. Sama Vritti (calms the nervous system, increases focus, reduces stress)

Inhale through the nose for a count of four, then exhale through the nose for a count of four. More advanced practitioners can aim for six to eight counts per breath. This exercise can be done anytime and anywhere, but is especially effective before bedtime and when you are done working from home. Watch a short instructional video here:

2. Abdominal Breathing (reduces heart rate and blood pressure)

Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Take a deep breath through the nose into your stomach so it inflates and deflates with an exhale. Try to take six to ten deep, slow breaths per minute for a total of 10 minutes. Watch a short instructional video here:

3. Nadi Shodhana (energises, increases focus, activates both sides of the brain)

Sit in a comfortable meditative pose with your spine erect. Place the tip of your index finger and middle finger of the right hand in between the eyebrows, your ring finger and little finger on the left nostril, and the thumb on the right nostril. While holding your thumb over the right nostril, inhale deeply through the left nostril. Then close off the left nostril with the ring finger and exhale through the right nostril. After every exhalation, remember to breathe in from the same nostril from which you exhaled. Continue this pattern to complete nine rounds. It's easy to do when you are working from home and you can watch a short instructional video here:

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Learn to breathe while working from home

Learn simple techniques for stress reduction and enhanced concentration in Richard Brown’s book The healing power of the breath. It offers ‘a drug-free, side-effect free solution to common stress and mood problems’. Alternatively, choose Dennis Lewis’ illustrated guide Free your breath, free your life to learn how to breathe more consciously so you can deal more effectively with difficult situations, which you need when you work from home. Finally, opt for Dr. Belisa Vranich’s jargon-free guide Breathe that promises to recharge and refuel your body and brain in two weeks through breathing exercises.

If you need something to remind you of taking proper breaths (because we all know it is so easy to forget), try one of these practical apps: Paced Breathing is a free Android app that regulates your breathing cycle by giving you visual, audio, and vibration signals.

Breathe2Relax is a portable stress management tool available both for Android as well as iOS users. It provides guided breathing exercises, helping to reduce symptoms of an anxiety attack. Similarly, Breathing Zone app uses clinically proven therapeutic breathing exercises that decrease your heart rate. You can easily use this app when you are working from home and if you use it daily, you will experience significantly reduce in your stress level and a better management of your high blood pressure.