According to The American Institute of Stress (AIS) deep abdominal (belly) breathing for 20-30 minutes each day (ideally combined with visualization, more on this next time.) reduces stress and anxiety.
When you experience stress, overwhelm, anxiety…the body tends to take fast, shallow breaths from the upper region of the chest resulting in increased non-calming physical changes like increased heart rate, lightheadedness and others, as opposed to the type of breathing your body automatically does when feeling very relaxed.
Taking deep breaths when stress is present is deeply helpful because, by taking deep breaths, you are providing more oxygen to your brain thus triggering your parasympathetic nervous system which promotes a state of calmness, like when you are asleep.
Breathing to de-stress in 10 seconds
Today I’d like to share with you a 10-second exercise I practice, share with my clients and am also teaching my four-year-old who has challenges with anxiety.
What we are doing here is essentially breaking down one deep breath into 3 steps.
Take a look at the image of the isosceles triangle. (This is a screen shot of the one I have on my phone with images of the things that I find relaxing).
Place your finger at the top point, on the star where it says “Start Here” and, without lifting your finger, follow the arrows.
* Start with an EXHALE for 6 counts as you trace down the left side of the triangle from the star, top to bottom.
* Now BREATHE IN for 3 counts as you trace up from that bottom corner of the triangle to the next point.
* Now HOLD your breath for 3 counts as you trace your finger up that third side of the triangle and exhale for a count of 6.
That is a deconstructed deep breath.
Repeat as many times as necessary, remember gentle deep breaths, so helpful!
Of course there are many ways to practice breathing for the purpose of relaxation, mindfulness, to help yourself fall asleep faster, to clear your mind…
I picked this practice and have it start with an exhale because our outward breath is neurologically tied to the relaxation response in the brain, think of when you sigh (out of relief), so especially if you are really upset and you do a long exhale first (instead of quick breath in then an exhale or quick exhales), this will assist in calming you down faster.
The exhale is also twice as long as the inhale -- having your exhale be longer than your inhale is helpful in that the longer the exhale compared to your inhale, the more helpful to decrease your heart rate -- again super helpful when you are stressed out.
Also, I have noticed that when I do this practice when I’m not stressed, my body wants to take a deep breath before the good long exhale, that’s perfectly natural, do that, listen to your body, my suggestion is that you make it a gentle deep belly breath.
I have the above image right on my iPhone lock screen wallpaper. There is no missing it and I can practice my breathing even when not stressed to make it second nature.
This one is for you. It’s a JPEG that will fit your iOS (Apple) phone lock screen wall. Totally complimentary. Download, save as image in your photos and set as wallpaper (lock screen), voila!
Sending you love!
In support of you, Debbie Deupree
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