Deep breathing exercises are often cited as an easy way to reduce your stress levels and keep you focused throughout your day. It seems like a simple enough solution — so why aren’t more of us making time for it?
Although breathing may seem like the simplest thing in the world, chances are good you’re actually doing it wrong. Never fear — there’s plenty of guidance available out there, including more than one breathing app to help you figure it out.
As you grew into adulthood, you likely picked up the bad habit of breathing using your chest and shoulders rather than your diaphragm. It’s time to break that habit and breathe for focus and clarity instead of just as a physical necessity. When you do, it might change so much more than just the way you breathe.
The reasons for making this change to our breathing patterns as we age aren’t entirely certain, although the Harvard Medical School does suggest body image is partially to blame for the phenomenon. Breathing with your diaphragm expands your stomach, so proper breathing may be discouraged by the fact that flat stomachs are considered more attractive in our culture.
Regardless of how it ends up happening, most of us end up breathing poorly, which reduces concentration and decreases our productivity. However, this problem can be fixed by simply taking a little time out of your day to relax and take a few deep breaths. Yes — it’s really that simple.
When you think about it, the breath is one of the most important bridges of the mind and body connection, which means that practicing proper breathing and intentional breathing can impact the body’s functions and your mental clarity in a positive way.
Practicing deep breathing exercises has been proven by science to reduce your heart rate and blood pressure while also making you feel more alert and invigorated. This can greatly increase your productivity by preventing burnout and improving your ability to stay focused for longer on the task at hand.
However, proper deep breathing can be difficult to learn on your own. It might be time to try out a breathing app if you need a little nudge toward better breathing habits.
Fortunately, there’s a way to carry your own personal breathing guide with you wherever you go. These six deep-breathing mobile apps guide you through breathing exercises to help keep you alert, focused and productive.
Available on both iOS and Android, this breathing app was developed by the National Institute for Telehealth and Technology, an organization within the United States Department of Defense. The military applications of better breathing and focus are obvious, but they readily apply to the rest of the population as well.
In addition to guiding you through scientifically sound breathing exercises to encourage your belly breathing technique, Breathe2Relax also includes a graphing function that can help you and your health care provider determine what’s causing you the highest levels of stress throughout your days.
2. Universal Breathing: Pranayama
One of the more fully featured breathing apps available on the market right now, Universal Breathing uses music and animation to help guide you through several levels of deep breathing exercises, starting from a beginner level and slowly ramping up the difficulty.
Based in part on the progressive nature of yoga, it’s already helped many people deal with their daily tensions and sources of stress and channel that mindfulness into better breathing.
The app is available on both the iOS and Android operating systems.
3. Paced Breathing
This breathing app is only for Android, but it includes some unique features that set it apart from the rest of the breathing apps we’ve mentioned here.
Overall, the app is easy to use and follow along with. That’s a great thing, because one of the primary audiences the developers are catering to are those who suffer from elevated anxiety and panic.
In addition to visual and audio cues, the Paced Breathing app can also use vibrations to help guide you through the exercises. It includes a few sound choices, and you’ll want to use your headphones for the binaural beat option.
4. Relax: Stress and Anxiety Relief
Available on both iOS and Android, this breathing app focuses on using musical cues as a way to help you gain better control over your breathing. The developers tout this app as part of an easy daily routine that offers heightened relaxation and relief from stress in just five minutes.
By using distinctive tones for each phase of the exercise, it can keep you on track while remaining unobtrusive. If you follow the structured course sessions, they should help you steadily slow down your breathing. Breathing apps like this one are great for killing two birds with one stone. If you are a music junkie, you can listen to tunes and correct your breathing all at the same time.
5. Prana Breath: Calm and Meditate
Just like the best medicines are those that combine cutting-edge techniques and time-honored wisdom, Prana Breath boasts a holistic approach informed by tradition and science in equal measure.
Prana Breath might not have some of the bells and whistles of the other breathing apps mentioned on this list, but it does offer a wide variety of customization options. You can choose from seven different breathing exercises or even create your own. You can also set a schedule with different types of exercises and then have the app automatically remind you when the time comes.
Prana Breath includes a detailed help guide for those of us who are new to deep breathing exercises, and it keeps detailed information about your usage to help track your progress. All told, Prana Breath promises results in seven to 15 mindful minutes each day, even without making other major lifestyle changes. You can download it from the Google Play Store.
6. Breathing Zone
Like several of these other breathing apps, the main reason to consider Breathing Zone is that it offers a guided experience — and a roadmap to better health — in just five minutes per day.
While it has some similarities to the others, this app’s signature feature is the ability to analyze how you normally breathe in order to suggest the best routine for you. It includes the option of a male or female voice to guide you through the exercises, as well as an array of sounds and images to choose from. There’s a vibration mode if you prefer a silent breathing guide.
The app has received positive buzz from users and health-minded publications alike, with sufferers of all types of anxiety and behavioral disorders claiming the app helped them gain some control over their lives and states of calm. This breathing app is available on both iOS and Android.
BreatheIn is an iOS app that’s focused solely on breathing and breathing exercises with a focus on relaxation, recovery and stress relief by offering basic, standard breathing exercises that can evolve with you as you grow in your practice.
The app is completely free, though there are some exercises and lessons that aren’t free, which you can unlock by accessing the paid version, although the free version offers a lot already.
BreatheIn also offers a variety of soothing sounds to listen to while you breathe or meditate, which can create a calming, soothing environment to help get you in the mood to breathe deeply and fully.
8. Liberate Meditation
Available for both iOS and Android, Liberate Meditation is a meditation and breathing app developed specifically for people of color to connect to their wellness journey and develop a daily practice of meditation and connection.
This app features tracks, guided sessions and breathing exercises led by leaders and teachers of color in the wellness community to help support community and diversity in the wellness practice for those who desire it.
This app offers deep breathing as well as other facets of the wellness and meditation practice, which is great for users who want to find everything in one place.
Another iOS app, Breathe+ is a great starter for beginners as well as a place to expand for more advanced practitioners. By moving with the pictures on the screen, Breathe+ allows users to visualize and actually see their breath in real time. This can be great for those who happen to learn best visually and connect best using visual tools.
The app allows you to track your breathing in timed sessions, so you can go for however long makes you the most comfortable. Many therapists and mental health professionals recommend this app, as it’s a great way to ease into a deep breathing and calming practice regularly.
10. Simple Habit
Simple habit is a meditation and breathing app designed to help busy people on the go who need to connect to their breath. Available on both iOS and Android, this app offers its basic features for free — although users can upgrade to membership options, too.
Simple Habit aims to help even the busiest people connect to their breath within just five minutes, which is perfect for those short on time or in a bit of a tight schedule crunch.
With a wide variety of exercises, meditations, teachers and tracks, you’ll never get bored. You can even download tracks and listen offline — perfect for those jet setters and adventure seekers.
Choose Your Breathing App, Live a Little Better Each Day
It can sometimes feel like our busy minds will never give us a moment of peace. Whether you have mild struggles with focus and productivity throughout the workweek or you’re looking for a more natural way to address a more serious case of anxiety or depression, a breathing app might be a great addition to your daily routine.
As long as you keep your expectations realistic and always remember that no app will ever be a substitute for medical help with behavioral disorders, you can join the many thousands of satisfied app users out there who are breathing a little more easily now.
Even if you only have a few minutes each day to spare, taking a bit of time to check in with your breath can impact the rest of your day, and your life overall. And you’ll access the best experiences of all when you find an app you really mesh with.
Remember that whichever app you choose, it’s best to keep a regular schedule of deep breathing exercises to maintain that consistent level of focus and clarity. That way, you’ll experience changes over time and build a more natural practice of wellness throughout your entire life.
In time, you may even be able to reverse your bad breathing habits. Being overstressed is never a good thing, and it can have a severe effect on your daily productivity. It’s never too late to start a breathing practice, no matter how foreign it may feel at first. Even if you struggle with anxiety, you can find techniques that work for you.
Fortunately, the solution is simple: Just take a deep breath.
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