Exhale Your Stress

Deep breathing is often the fastest, easiest way to get immediate relief from stress. You can do it anytime, anywhere. When you find yourself feeling anxious, scared, angry, frustrated or just generally stressed out, try taking a few deep breaths.

To begin, breathe in slowly and deeply gently pushing your stomach forward.  You want to breathe in from your diaphragm which is below your chest. As the air comes in, you’ll feel your chest swell. Hold the breath for a few seconds, then slowly release the breath. If you can, breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. If you can’t do this, that’s okay, just breathe in and out in whatever way is comfortable for you. Give yourself several seconds to fully release the breath and to breathe normally a few times, then take in your next deep breath. If possible, do three deep breaths. If you are able, five deep breaths can be even better.

Taking a minute to focus on your breathing and taking in the deep breaths is very powerful. You will feel your breathing slowing down and you will get calmer. If you can, stop whatever you are doing and bring all of your attention to your breathing. Even if you must continue with whatever you are doing and your attention is divided, try the deep breathing anyway. It can still make a huge difference.

Perhaps, the best thing about this breathing technique is that it works immediately and the more you do it, the more effective it becomes. Not only will the sense of peace come more easily and quickly, but it will last longer. You’ll also find that sometimes you can even calm yourself with just one deep breath. In the middle of a difficult situation or conversation, you’ll be able to use deep breathing to bring you back to a more centered and relaxed place. As soon as you notice that you’re starting to feel irritated or stressed, take a breath.

Deep breathing is a great way to start meditation. It’s also a good way to transition from one activity to another. It clears your head and helps you to change your focus. Even when you aren’t feeling stressed, it can be helpful to take a minute once or twice throughout the day and just take a few deep breaths.

Copyright © 2009, Lisa Wagner

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