Stressed? Just Breathe!

Ever notice how when you become a bit stressed about something your heartbeat picks up a little speed?  Did you know that you could calm yourself down by just breathing?

I learned all this at yoga classes years ago.  Breathing is so very important to the human condition, yet few really know how to breathe well. It’s not something we are taught or often think about.

I’ve heard it said that proper breathing is the ‘holy grail to good health’. Your lungs are like balloons and should be inflated to their full capacity to keep them working well.

Here’s how you can improve your breathing and lower your heart rate at the same time with a little thought and focus:

  1. Quiet yourself and focus on your breath and the motion of your breathing.
  2. Focus on your diaphragm and work that muscle!
  3. Slowly take a deep breath and focus on pushing your diaphragm down as you fill your lungs with air.
  4. Then slowly exhale that air and feel your diaphragm rise.
  5. Do this a few times, and your heart rate will slow to a more normal rate.

Hint: If you find yourself taking that deep inhale and sucking in your gut, you’re working your diaphragm in the opposite way it should function, and that is not good. If your lungs are filling with air, the motion should be outward, not inward. Think of the inflating balloon.

As you become more aware of your breathing, you can work toward filling your lungs to capacity. It does take commitment and practice, but the benefits will definitely outweigh the time spent.

So, before that next meeting with your boss, or before that important interview, just work your breath to your advantage to breathe away your stress and calm yourself.  You can practice while stuck in traffic or waiting for that meeting or interview to start.

Additional hint:  Following the steps outlined above can also help you fall asleep after a hectic day. Just breathe!

Written by guest blogger, Shelley Stoeckl, CPIBN’s Office Manager