Reducing Stress, Part 3: Breathing

Breathing is the essence of life. Most of us tend to breathe shallowly by breathing into our chests when we should really be breathing slow and deep into our diaphragm. Proper deep breathing will give your body the essential oxygen it needs to function properly, as well as helping to eliminate toxins, particularly carbon dioxide. Ever been around someone who sighs lot? They are shallow breathers who have to off gas excess carbon dioxide, hence, the sigh.

Whenever you feel stressed, anxious or tired, stop and take the time to inhale and exhale deeply. You can do it. Just slow down, put a smile on your face, and remember: it’s hard to worry when you’re smiling.

Try these two easy breathing techniques, which are effective and take no time at all –

The First:

  • Sitting straight on a chair, uncross your legs and place your feet firmly on the ground. Place your hands on your stomach.
  • Keep looking straight ahead with a smile on your face.
  • Breathe in slowly through your nose for the count of six,
  • Feel your stomach expand and hold that breath for the count of six.
  • Slowly breathe out for the count of six through your mouth, making sure you make an extra effort to really empty your lungs.
  • Repeat up to five times, but even once will make a big difference.

The Second –

  • Relax your shoulders and put your hands on either side of your rib cage, just below bra-strap level.
  • Spread your fingers wide and take a slow, deep breath through your nose (try to count to six), filling up your stomach, rib cage and chest with air. You should feel
  • your stomach and rib cage expanding.
  • Then slowly open your mouth and gently let all the air out until there’s nothing left.
  • If you can, on the out-breath, pull your navel back towards your spine and squeeze your pelvic floor adding in a bit of stomach work.
  • If you get dizzy, it’s because you are not used to taking in that much air.
  • Sit down and repeat. If you do this regularly it will eventually become a habit.

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