Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Let it out slowly. Feel better? It’s not your imagination! When stress is unavoidable, deep breathing is a surefire way to stop the feeling of pressure immediately. Reversing the “fight or flight” response in the body, it calms down body and mind in an instant.
Are you telling me I need breathing lessons?
Breathing may be an involuntary action, but deep breathing for stress relief actually requires a bit of practice. The next time you feel the pressure rising, find yourself a quiet space, loosen up any binding clothing, and get comfortable.
How you can do it:
- Close your eyes and think about relaxing your face. You may find that lying on your back makes this easier.
- Place one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest.
- Take a deep breath in through your nose. Feel your belly, then your chest fill with air. Pause briefly.
- Breathe out through your mouth, feeling your chest, then your belly lower. Pause briefly again.
- Repeat for three more breaths.
As you get better at this, you can experiment with adding a mantra, or a short message, on the in and out breaths. For example, you might try breathing in with “I take in clarity” and breathing out with “I let go of negativity”, or something similar. The words do not matter as much as the intention, so let it be something that allows you to find the peace you need.
Ok, now I am hooked. How often can I do it?
You can practice this technique as many times per day as you like. Extending the number of deep breaths can only help, so try lengthening the practice when you have a few extra minutes. Whether in your car, at home, or at the office, deep breathing can center you anytime and anyplace you need it.
Harvard. (2018). Relaxation techniques: Breath control helps quell errant stress response - Harvard Health. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/relaxation-techniques-breath-control-helps-quell-errant-stress-response
Stress Management: Breathing Exercises for Relaxation | Michigan Medicine. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/uz2255