Birch Tree Psychology

Specializing in Therapy for Children, Adults, and Families

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Breathe Your Way to a Better Day

Posted by Brittany on November 13, 2011 at 7:55 PM

These days most people live frantic and often stressful lives and everyone could probably benefit from some relaxation stratagies. One of the simplest techniques I like to teach people is deep breathing. Deep breathing is an extremely easy and important skill to have. The nice thing about deep breathing is that you can use it anywhere and it is not time consuming. If you are having a particularly stressful day you can use this technique for a couple of minutes and it will help you de-stress and get refocused. I personally enjoy deep breating first thing in the morning to start my day on a positive note and right before bed to get a better nights rest.

Deep breathing involves your diaphragm. When you breath in, your stomache should expand, and when you breath out, your stomache should fall. The key point is that you have to draw air into your lungs in a way that it will expand your stomache and not your chest. When people breath with their chests it is usually short and shallow breaths, which can actully increase stress and anxiety.

Sit or lie in a comfortable position and breath slowly, try to breath in your NOSE and out your MOUTH. Put one hand on your chest and one on your stomach, when you breath in through your nose you should feel your stomach expand with your hand. (When people breath in with their mouths it is the chest that expands and we want to avoid this). Then breath out slowly through your mouth and feel your stomach contract. After you do this a few times you no longer need to put your hands on your chest/stomach but can put them in a relaxed position. I also recommend breathing out for twice as long as you breathe in. For example, if you breathe in for 3 seconds, you should breathe out for 6 seconds. If instead you breathe in for 4 seconds, then try to breathe out for 8. So to break it down, here are the steps to deep breathing:

1. Sit or lie in a comfortable position.

2. Slowly inhale through your nose for 3 seconds.

3. As you inhale, feel your stomach expand with your hand.

4. Slowly exhale through pursed lips (to regulate the release of air) for 6 seconds.

5. Repeat

Deep breathing is a form of relaxation, and when practiced regularly, leads to the relief or prevention of symptoms commonly associated with stress, such as high blood pressure, headaches, stomach problems, depression, and anxiety.

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