This simple 10 minute breathing exercise can be done from your office chair, your bed or the couch. It’s most helpful if you develop a routine time to practice each day to establish a habit. This technique is especially effective before bed and can help you sleep because it helps take your mind off those racing thoughts.
- Sit or lie down comfortably. Close your eyes.
- Begin by inhaling through your nose and into your belly for a count of 4.
- Exhale through your nose (or mouth if that feels more natural) for a count of 4.
- Don’t try too hard.
Why this helps:
The “fight or flight” response is what the body does when it prepares to confront or avoid danger, but problems arise when this response is constantly provoked by less momentous events like money fears, traffic jams, job worries, relationship problems, and holiday stress. We can’t avoid all the stresses in our lives, but we can develop healthier ways to respond to them and one of these ways is to learn to invoke the “relaxation response,” and the first step to this is deep breathing.
According to Harvard Health Publications, “Shallow breathing limits the diaphragm's range of motion. The lowest part of the lungs doesn't get a full share of oxygenated air. That can make you feel short of breath and anxious. Deep abdominal breathing encourages full oxygen exchange — that is, the beneficial trade of incoming oxygen for outgoing carbon dioxide. Not surprisingly, it can slow the heartbeat and lower or stabilize blood pressure.”
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