Quick Tip -Diaphragmatic Breathing
In times of emotional distress, the nervous system jumps into a higher gear and causes a number of physiological responses. We can begin to sweat, our muscles tighten, and our heart rate increases. You may notice that when feeling particularly anxious or distressed, your breathing quickens and your chest heaves up and down.
However, you can consciously fight these responses just by consciously changing your breathing patterns. Studies have shown that the way we breathe is central to our ability to ease stress. By practicing diaphragmatic breathing, you influence the body and cause it to relax. You can interrupt the anxious response you are feeling, and once you master this technique, you should be able to calm your nervous system in just one minute.
- First, remove yourself from the stressful situation, whether it is a disagreement with a friend, family member or coworker, or another stress-or. Move to a quiet room, like a bedroom or office.
- Sit or lie down.
- Place your palms flat on your abdomen just below your rib cage. Let the finger tips of your middle fingers touch.
- Close your eyes, and start to focus on your breathing. Imagine an invisible barrier around your body, and any negative or stressful thoughts simply bounce off of that wall. Think only of your breathing.
- Inhale through your nose and think about the flow of air into your body. Count to 3 slowly each time you inhale, and exhale.
- Imagine that there is a balloon in your abdomen, and as you inhale, the air causes the balloon to expand. As you exhale, the balloon deflates.
Be sure to take slow breaths, but do not inhale to the point that you feel uncomfortable. This should be a relaxing process. If you feel dizzy or experience pain, return to your normal breathing pattern for a few minutes and try again. You may have been breathing too quickly or too deeply.
Practice this for a few minutes each day, and over the course of a week, you should be able to call upon this breathing technique any time to instantly reduce your stress.