I just tried Chris Hemsworth's 5-minute breathing exercise to reduce stress — and wow

Breathing exercise: Chris Hemsworth meditating with palms together and legs crossed in a river
(Image credit: Centr app)

Meditation, breathwork, breathing exercises — whatever you want to call it — mindfulness continues to soar in popularity as we all look for more ways to boost mood, improve energy levels and reduce stress.

And what better way to do your daily breathing exercise than by listening to the dulcet tones of Thor himself? Over the past few years, Chris Hemsworth has released a soothing series of stress-release meditations via his fitness and wellbeing app, Centr. Alongside the aptly named and brilliantly funny ‘Affirmations That Positively, Absolutely, Probably (Most Likely) Won’t Make Your 2020 Worse,’ by Chris Hemsworth. 

We’ve reviewed plenty of Hemsworth’s workouts, including high-rep beastings like the 200-rep bodyweight workout and his 250-rep dumbbell workout, but it’s great to see him exercising his (and our) mental health as well. This guided breathing exercise only takes five minutes and is positively (absolutely, probably, most likely) going to make you feel calmer and more energized afterward. 

New to meditation? Give this Navy SEAL sleep technique a go, or access the full ‘Learn to Meditate’ series via Centr. For now, why not sweep the distractions to one side for a moment, find a comfortable space to sit or lay, and in the words of Hemsworth’s team, “take the time today to tune in, breathe, and still your mind with Chris’s calming voice leading the way.” Yes, please.  

Watch Chris Hemsworth’s five-minute 'stress-release' breathing exercise

You can access this five-minute breathing exercise from anywhere in the world. If you’re surrounded by distractions, grab some of the best headphones for sleep that could help you focus and relax. Looking to get comfy while you breathe? These are the best yoga mats on the market. 

A quick breathing exercise or meditation is a simple way to trigger relaxation and improve your physical and mental wellbeing. We traditionally associate it with sitting with legs crossed in a dark room battling busy minds and trying to ignore rumbling stomachs or the sound of chatter next door. But breathing exercises can be done in as little as one minute and have a positive physiological impact on stress levels, anxiety, and mental clarity. 

When stressed, your body can’t determine between perceived and actual threat. In short, it will physically react the same way to a car horn as a tiger chasing you — think fast pulse, ragged breathing, and jitters. We spend a lot of time in this ‘fight-or-flight’ mode, activated by the sympathetic nervous system in response to stress, and it can take around 30-60 minutes to come back down after.

Research has shown that a deep rhythmic breathing exercise or “diaphragmatic breathing” is a type of mind-body training that forms a core component of yoga. The practice slows down and controls your breath rate, which physiologically takes the body from your sympathetic to the parasympathetic nervous system — a state of calm. Breathing exercises help improve emotional balance and mood, reduce feelings of anxiety and stress, and even boost energy and cognitive performance. 

According to YouGov, 51% of women and 35% of men find the holidays stressful. But if Hemsworth has taught us anything with this breathing exercise, it’s that you only need five minutes to feel noticeably more calm. 

I just tried this 5-minute Chris Hemsworth breathing exercise to reduce stress — and wow

I gave this five-minute breathing exercise a go and found it really helpful for managing stress levels and finding clarity throughout the day. Hemsworth guides you the entire way, asking you to deepen your breathing and notice any areas where you hold stress, like your jaw or shoulders. As you breathe, tension begins to melt away as the body relaxes and your mind focuses. Just as gently as you melt into your mat, Hemsworth guides you back to the room with a clearer, more alert mind. 

That cozy warm feeling you have just after waking from a nap? Five minutes of one quick breathing exercise got me there. If this doesn’t sound like your thing, no worries, we've got more ideas below.

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Sam Hopes
Senior Staff Writer - Fitness

Sam Hopes is a level III qualified fitness trainer, level II reiki practitioner, and senior fitness writer at Future PLC, the publisher of Tom's Guide. She is also about to undertake her Yoga For Athletes training course. Having trained to work with mind and body, Sam is a big advocate of using mindfulness techniques in sport and fitness, and their impact on performance. She’s also passionate about the fundamentals of training and building sustainable training methods.  When she's not writing up her experiences with the latest fitness tech and workouts, you’ll find her writing about nutrition, sleep, recovery, and wellness.