Not as easy as it sound sometimes. Life can get a person so worked up and stressed that they have a hard time calming down. Everyone around them tells them to “just breathe”. While this is fine and dandy, many don’t know how to do just that.
There are several ways to approach breathing for stress relief. Some are easy and can be done anywhere at almost anytime. Others are a little more involved and are better planned ahead. I personally use a combination of both to help me get through my days.
On the Go Breathing Exercise
Most of us can think of at least one time when we got so worked up or something that happened that it felt like we were going to explode. Our body temperature rises, our face flushes, we start to sweat and we might even want to scream or punch something.
This kind of situation can happen at any point in the day. From a screaming toddler in the grocery store to that guy that just cut you off on the freeway, many events happen during the day that can get us worked up.
It is important to be able to take a minute or two and calm yourself down before you react or act impulsively and do or say something that you regret later. Here is a quick way to help you refocus and calm down before that happens.
Get yourself to a safe place. This could be making sure that your LO is in a safe and secure place, or just pulling off the freeway and parking in the first available spot. You want to be somewhere where you will be able to close your eyes for a minute or two.
Close your eyes. Don’t squeeze them closed. Just close them lightly as if you were about to go to sleep.
Focus on your breathing. More than likely you won’t be able to control who or what is making noise around you. So just focus on your breath and how it sounds going in and out, in and out, in and out.
Now switch to breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. You can do this loudly or quietly, whichever feel the most natural for you. As you breathe, count as you breathe in and exhale double that amount out. For example: if you breathe in for 5 seconds you want to breathe out for 10 seconds.
Breathe this way for a minute or two. When you feel that you have calmed down a bit, open your eyes and go about your business. This breathing technique will help you calm down in the heat of the moment and re-center yourself so you can respond smarter and calmer.
Planned Breathing Exercise
Sometimes it is nice to just set aside 5-30 minutes to just be calm and quiet. I know that many times that is very hard in the house where there are kids, pets, electronic devices galore, etc. However, just like the on the go breathing exercise, the planned breathing exercise can help you center yourself and be more calm and collected.
Set time aside for you to spend to do this away from distractions. Maybe you want to sit comfortably on a seat or the floor, perhaps on a yoga mat or laying down on a blanket. Wherever you feel the most comfortable.
Set the mood. Light some incense if you like that. Start up some relaxing, slow tempo music or nature sounds in the background to help you relax. If none of these appeal to you, do what you like or do nothing at all. This is all about making you the most comfortable that you can be.
Before you get super comfortable, set an alarm for yourself that is not too loud and pleasant to hear. This will be your cue that your time you set aside to do this is up and you need to start refocusing.
Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. As you count in your breaths and double your exhale, I want you to push your tongue against the roof of your mouth on the inhale. This will help you relax and keep you focused on your breathing.
As you are breathing, your mind might wander and thoughts will pop into your head that scream for your attention. Remember that you have given this time to yourself and you will get to them afterwards. Then just push the though aside and focus on the breath once again.
For someone that is just starting to do these breathing exercises, you probably want to start by setting 5-10 minutes aside. It can be very difficult to sit there and do nothing while you just focus on your breathing for even just that long if you are unused to it. With practice, you will be able to do it for longer and longer. This is a way to not only help recent yourself and practice being in the now, but also a good way to start meditating down the road if that is what you want.
Breathing is a great way to calm yourself down when you find yourself in a stressful, angry or tense situation without needing any equipment. It is also a great way to spend some quiet time with yourself and re-center yourself so that you feel more calm and relaxed through the day.
I personally love to do a combination of the two. I plan a couple times a week when I spend 15 minutes just sitting and breathing that I have planned out, and then when life throws me a curve ball I use the on the go breathing technique. Both ways help my stay focused, calm and better able to handle life as it comes.
Suggested Resources & Reading
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- Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art sold on Amazon
- How to breathe properly for better health
- 10 Tips on How to Relieve Stress
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