Feeling stressed or anxious? Just follow these two expert-approved breathing exercises - whether at home or at work - to provide an instant dose of stress relief when you need it most

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If it feels like you’re in a constant state of stress caused by a conveyor belt of work, family and financial pressures and understandably, finding it increasingly hard to switch off (even when the worst is over), you’re not alone. Keeping calm amidst the chaos can seem near enough impossible.

So if you’re searching for a few easy yet effective relaxation techniques to fit into even the most hectic of schedules, some properly conducted, expert-approved breathing exercises could hold the key to quietening your mind. “The effects of breathing techniques on anxiety have been studied at length, and I use them with my clients to encourage using the breath as a means of increasing awareness and mindfulness,” says yoga and meditation expertChris James .

Here are Chris’s two top breathing exercises for restoring calm, mindfulness and focus back into your day.

1. Abdominal breathing technique – observe the pause

Sit at the end of your office chair, back straight, and make sure that your feet are hip distance apart.

How it’s done: Put one hand on the chest and the other on the belly. Allow the natural breath to settle for a moment. Come to observe the natural breath. Count the number of seconds on the inhalation and the number of seconds on the exhalation. After a moment or so, you will note that there is a brief and momentary pause in between the breaths; firstly at the end of the inhalation, and at the end of the exhalation. Continue to breathe in this way without forcing the breath in any way.

Allow the chest to open deeply with the inhalation and follow the exhalation all the through to its natural conclusion. At the end of the exhalation, wait for the inhalation to come towards you, without you going towards the inhalation. In this way, the natural four part breath cycle occurs spontaneously and naturally and the R&R response is triggered after 3–5 minutes.

Keep in mind that those who operate in a stressed state all the time might be a little shocked how hard it is to control the breath in stressful situations. So, I would recommend preparing oneself for such situations in advance with a simple daily breathing practice (see below).

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2. Three part breath and full complete breath practice

Each day, sit in a comfortable cross-legged or kneeling position. If sitting, place a block/book under the backside - half on and half off the block. Buy a small notebook/journal and record any thoughts and feelings.

Sectional breathing

Each day work through all of the following:

Allow your natural breath to settle.

a) Place middle fingers on navel, heels of the hands on the side of the tummy. Visualise the air flowing into the abdomen x12.

b) Place heels of hands on the sides of the rib cage. Visualise the air flowing into the ribs x12.

c) Tap the top lobes of the lungs and feel the air in them for a moment or so.

d) Follow the breath from the navel, through to the sides of the ribs and into the top lobes of the lungs. Empty from the navel through the sides of the ribs to the top lobes of the lungs x12. (Alternate the method of filling and emptying the lungs – whichever feels more comfortable for you).

Controlled breathing not only keeps your mind and body function at their best, it can also lower blood pressure, promote feelings of calm and relaxation and help you de-stress.

Follow us  @getthegloss  and Chris  @ChrisJamesYoga .