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Deep Breathing to Relieve Stress

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Deep Breathing to Relieve Stress

Deep breathing is step 1 in managing our stress. Take five or ten minutes once or twice a day to practice the abdominal breathing method below until becomes habitual. Once this breathing becomes routine, it can be used to reverse the stress response whenever it is triggered.

Abdominal Breathing Method

Sit upright in a comfortable position.

For practice purposes, place your hands on your abdomen, right below the navel, with fingertips touching.

Breathe through your nose.

Inhale very slowly. As you do, push your abdomen out as though it were a balloon expanding. Your fingertips will separate.

As the abdomen expands, your diaphragm will move downward, allowing fresh air to enter the bottom part of the lungs.

As the breath continues, expand the chest. More air should now enter, filling the middle part of the lungs.

Slightly contracting the abdomen, raise your shoulders and collarbones. This should fill the upper part of the lungs.

At this point, the entire respiratory mechanism has been employed and no portion of the lungs is left unfilled. Hold the breath for about five seconds.

Exhalation is as important as inhalation. Proper exhalation not only expels all used air, it opens space for fresh new air to enter. After holding the breath, begin slowly to exhale through the nose. As you do so, draw in the abdomen. This will lift the diaphragm. The expanded rib cage will return to its normal position, and the lungs will empty.

Remember to exhale slowly and let all the air empty out. If comfortable, hold it a second or two before beginning the inhalation again. When you resume, remember to inhale slowly and completely.

Repeating the word “calm” or “relax” as you exhale can be helpful.