Experts in stress management all agree that breathing correctly and deeply is a good way to feel calm and relieve anxiety.
This can be accomplished by finding a quiet place to concentrate on our breathing for a few minutes, by taking a class in yoga or tai chi, by meditating, or by buying a book or DVD about breathing.
Or, as most of us do, you might choose to participate in all the above ways at different times, depending on your life circumstances.
Everyone who lives breathes, of course. It’s a natural reaction that the body uses to bring oxygen to the cells and then to expell carbon dioxide. When the balance of these two gasses is interrupted, we can experience stress, anxiety, and restlessness.
While ancient philosophies and practices promote deep and healing breathing, modern scientific studies support it, as well. A good balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide pacifies the autonomic nervous system and that in turn relaxes the body and the mind.
You may have noticed that when you feel stressed or anxious, your breaths are short, shallow, and rapid. Surely, we’ve all been in worrisome situations where someone (very often our mothers!) tells us to “take a deep breath.”
This is no more an old wives’ tale than eating our vegetables is!
Sit still and upright. Pull air into your lungs through you nose and wait for eight, nine, or ten seconds. Expel it slowly, breathing from your abdomen. Repeat at least five times.
Stand or sit and let your abdomen expand when you inhale. Concentrate on the abdomen rather than letting your shoulders raise. Exhale slowly. Notice how your abdomen moves in and out.
When you exhale, tighten your throat a little and let the air escape through it. This yoga practice relieves stress even further.
What is important is to remember to breathe correctly and fully whenever you feel tense, stiff, or edgy. It helps with more than stress; you will concentrate better and have more energy.