What is Rainbow Breathing and How Can it Help Reduce Stress?
We all know life can be tough sometimes. When we are overwhelmed or stressed out it can be hard to come back to reality and stop that anxious feeling. There are many ways to manage stress and anxiety, even super easy ways. One famous anxiety management technique called rainbow breathing is an extremely easy, yet effective way to control your breath and bring back a sense of calm to the body.
- Rainbow breathing is a simple, yet effective breathing exercise to help manage stress or anxiety.
- There is the standard rainbow breathing technique and the more movement rainbow breathing technique.
- Breathwork can significantly reduce stress levels by signaling to the parasympathetic nervous system that the body needs to be calmed down.
What is rainbow breathing?
It is scientifically proven that regulating and practicing your breath can improve your overall mental health and stress levels. How is this possible, you may ask!? Well, a lot of times when you are stressed you won’t even realize that your heart starts to beat more rapidly than usual. Breathing calms down the body by sending warning signals that your brain needs to relax. Recognizing these signs and focusing on breathwork can have huge impacts on your overall state of mind.
The name “rainbow breathing'' is symbolic for the calm after the storm. This technique started out for kids who needed help figuring out how to calm themselves down. Many teachers use this technique in their classes to teach their students about mindfulness and handling stressful situations. It only takes about three to five minutes and there are two ways you can go about using this technique.
The standard rainbow breathing technique
Now remember, this technique was created for kids… so in order to achieve the standard rainbow breathing exercise you will need a picture of a rainbow (hand drawn or printed, it doesn’t matter). Sit comfortably next to the picture and place your finger at the left side of the rainbow. Take a deep breath through your nose as you begin to move your finger along the rainbow until you reach the middle. Once you get to the center, exhale deeply until your finger reaches the other end. Continue to do this until you feel more relaxed or even work your way down every color of the rainbow.
I know it may sound silly, but sometimes the most simple techniques turn out to be your best, go-to techniques.
Rainbow breathing technique with more movement
This version of the technique requires more movement on your part. First, picture a rainbow right in front of you. Close your eyes and begin to inhale while moving your finger along the imaginary rainbow in front of you. Once you reach the end of the invisible rainbow, exhale moving your finger from right to left. Repeat this as many times as necessary until you feel calm and collected.
How can we incorporate rainbow breathing into our day?
So you might be thinking about how you’re not going to carry around a picture of a rainbow to work every day, or randomly bust out making arches in the air with your fingers in the middle of the office. However, we can use rainbow breathing as a starting point to help us learn how to use our breath to stop panic attacks, irrational thoughts, and high stress levels.
When you find yourself in a stressful situation alone, you definitely should take full advantage of the full rainbow breathing technique. The more comfortable you get with practicing and controlling your breathing, the easier it will be to do on a whim, even in a public place.
For example, if you’re at work or school and you feel yourself becoming extremely anxious, you can immediately think of rainbow breathing and begging to inhale and exhale for the correct length of time. After all, it's not about the actual act of tracing a rainbow, as much as it’s about regulating your breath for a certain period of time and focusing on it.
How do breathing techniques reduce stress?
As I mentioned before, breathing can help calm down the body and reduce stress, but how exactly can deep breathing have an effect on your stress levels? To break it down a little bit further, breathwork increases the body’s alertness and allows the body to release toxins at a faster pace. Essentially, taking in deeper breaths brings more CO2 to the bloodstream which triggers the parasympathetic nervous system to produce a more relaxed and restful state of being. Not only can deep breathing reduce stress, but it can also improve concentration, sleep quality, and overall happiness.
There are many other types of deep breathing activities that can help regulate stress. Rainbow breathing is just one of the easier techniques since it was invented for kids. It truly has become a staple in the classroom for teaching kids from a young age about the importance of learning how to manage their anxiety and stress. Teaching kids an important mindfulness tip about breathing techniques can work wonders for their future and how they handle high-stress experiences.
Even I can admit that I was a little critical from the start about the rainbow breathing technique since it was made for kids. However, when I started actually implementing it into my life, I saw a drastic change in how I handled really stressful or anxious situations. Being in tune with your breath has the power to change the way you think for the better, and help you to handle your emotions. Sometimes the most simple of things can add the biggest benefits to your life. So, if you feel a lot of emotions coming on, trying rainbow breathing can really be your calm after the storm.
Written by Emma Carlson