By Barb Chapman and Tara Lehman (original from 2018)

Do you ever find yourself breathing quickly or even holding your breath during stressful moments?   Do you lay in bed at night with your mind and heart racing together?  Could you use a quick relaxation technique?  Don’t forget to breathe!

Everyone has moments of anxiety or stress in their lives.  Some situations can cause short term anxiety for a few minutes, where other situations may cause days, weeks or even months of high stress.  Being mindful of your physical symptoms of stress or anxiety and how it affects your body (i.e. quick or shallow breathing, anxiety attacks, seeing stars, tight or sore muscles, etc) is very important to your wellbeing.   Recognizing that your body shows physical symptoms of stress, allows you to understand that your body sometimes requires intervention to calm down.  One way of providing an immediate physical calm is deep breathing.

If you are a yoga or meditation fan, you probably already know how to do intentional deep breathing.  Just use that practise every day or during high stress moments when you just can’t calm down.  Not a yoga master?  No problem.  There is a simple approach that you can do anywhere at any time.  People may not even know you are doing it.

How do you deep breathe?  There are many ways, but here is one that may help.  Stand or sit in a position where you feel comfortable and alert, but not slouched.  If you are able and where safe, close your eyes for this exercise – this is best done in a sitting position.  Open your eyes any time you feel that you become unstable.  Put your hands on your abdomen to ensure you are breathing the breath in to your stomach and not your chest.  Breathe in slowly for a count of 3 seconds, ensuring the breath reaches your stomach – your abdomen should extend, shoulders should stay down.  Then breathe out through your mouth for 3 seconds, while doing this being always mindful in relaxing your shoulders and tense muscles.  Take a 3 second break before repeating 3-5 times.

After doing this exercise, you should feel an immediate reduction in tenseness of muscles and a reduction in the speed of your breath.  This exercise can be completed several times during the day.  Ever thought about sharing this activity with others who may feel stressed or anxious?  It may be beneficial for everyone to join in this activity.

If you feel there is any other reason for your physical symptoms or you are unsure if this exercise is for you, please seek medical advice.  This exercise is not meant to help any medical conditions, but to aid during stressful moments in time.

For a demonstration on how to do deep breathing, check out our You Tube video (don’t forget to subscribe).

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