During times of stress and uncertainty, emotions run high. But what if you could welcome a sense of ease with just 3 deep breaths?
By intentionally focusing on a few deep breaths, you can physiologically ease anxiety, lower heart rate and blood pressure, and support your immune system. Deep breathing is also called belly breathing or diaphragmatic breathing. Being aware of the rise and fall of your belly as you inhale and exhale can reduce feelings of stress and positively shift your mental state. Mindful belly breathing is a cornerstone of meditation, yoga and other stress-reducing practices.
How to use your breath to reduce stress:
- Sit comfortably or lie down on the floor. Put one hand on your belly and one on your heart. You may want to close your eyes to help yourself focus. Or, you may feel more comfortable focusing on an object in the room.
- First, just notice your breath without changing it. (Where do you feel the breath the most—your nose, your belly, somewhere else? What is the sensation? Temperature?)
- Next, imagine that there is a balloon in your belly. Breathe in through your nose and imagine the balloon filling with air. Then, breathe out through your nose, imagining the balloon deflating.
- See if you can make the duration of your outflow longer than the in breath. This calms and soothes your nervous system. If you breathe in for 4 counts, see if you can breathe out for 6 or 8 counts. Continue in this manner for as long as you’d like.
What do you notice after breathing deeply? Are there any changes in your body or thoughts?
Where would you like to add 3 deep breaths?
Is it before you open the news app? In preparation for that conversation or difficult decision? Before talking to the kiddo that just drew a mural on your dinning room wall?
Deep breathing is a go-to stress reduction tool for many. For increased benefits and sense of ease, you may want to consider working up to 3 minutes.
Know you’re needing to manage stress but unsure how to make it fit in your schedule? Curious about other stress-reduction techniques or wanting to find other ways to develop a mindfulness practice?
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