Simple Stress Release, Breathe

by Aileen

girl lying in the grass(Part one of the three part Stress Release Series)

What is a simple small thing we can do today to experience mindfulness and release stress?

Breathe.

Yes, I said breathe.

Throughout the day, at any given moment, just stop and give yourself the gift of 5 consecutive deep breaths.

What is a deep breath?

When we breathe deeply, we breathe from our bellies. You may have heard the phrase “breathe from your diaphragm” our abdomen, sides and back literally expand at the same time. We become balloon like. The easiest way to feel the complete expansion is when you lie on your back, here you can actually feel your back press into the ground when you inhale. When we breathe deeply, our shoulders should stay down, not hike up to our ears. If you feel your chest rise and lower as you take in deep breaths, or if you feel your shoulders float up to your ears,  you are not breathing from your belly. Most people  tend to breathe with shallow breaths and  breathe from their chest. It may take a moment to feel your abdomen, sides and back balloon be patient with it.

How to breathe deeply:

1. Feel Put your hands around your waist and feel what happens as you inhale. Do you feel your abdomen and sides expand? Do you feel your back expand as well? You can do this either lying down or standing up. It tends to be easier to identify when you are lying down.

2. Count As you inhale slowly count to four. This means you finish your inhale on four. Pause here at the top of your inhale and then begin to exhale as you slowly count to four in your mind. Pause here at the bottom of your exhale. This completes one breath cycle. On your next breath cycle, inhale and count to five, pause here at the top of your inhale and then begin to exhale as you slowly count to five in your mind. Pause here at the bottom of your exhale. Have 5 consecutive breath cycles. With each new breath cycle increase by one count, this means when you are on your 5th breath cycle you are inhaling for a slow count of eight, pause, and exhale for a slow count of eight.

3. Focus Be sure to focus just on your breath and the count. See if you can free your mind from excess wandering thoughts.

A few resources on diaphragmatic breathing:

Harvard Health

Mayo Clinic

Dr. Weil

Wikipedia

Do you have a favorite breathing technique? If so, what is it?

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Mark July 6, 2010

What you say is very true. When we focus on our breathing we bring ourselves back into the present moment and we eliminate the mind chatter about our past and our future.
Mark´s last [type] ..Finding Your Way Back To Now

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Aileen July 6, 2010

Glad it resonated with you Mark :)

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Jean Sarauer July 6, 2010

Breathing not only keeps me alive – it keeps me sane. I can work myself up into quite the tizzy sometimes, but doing breath work always sets things right again.
Jean Sarauer´s last [type] ..How to be Your Own Blog Post Fairy

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Aileen July 6, 2010

it is pretty amazing, that breathing thing – endlessly fascinates me, as it is our connection to life

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Manal July 6, 2010

Breathing is not only a great way to relax but to become more aware of the present moment. It takes away from the worries of the future or regrets of the past.

I love the way you detailed the breathing technique Aileen. I try as much as I can do breathe deeply. I inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. The pause in between is where peace lies.
Manal´s last [type] ..5 Easy Steps to Understand and Deal With Temptation

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Aileen July 6, 2010

oh absolutely – “The pause in between is where peace lies”

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mark July 6, 2010

Hi Aileen,

I do (almost) exactly this several times a day. It really helps me at work to stay calm and to not lose control.

I love these kinds of tips. Thank you!
mark´s last [type] ..The Latest Thing To Solve All of Your Problems

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Aileen July 6, 2010

Hi Mark, thank you for visiting.

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Becca July 7, 2010

thank you! I have really been placing extra attention on my breathing lately. It is something that I have struggled with and so with each new clearing, I can step deeper into my breath. I have been alternating the Kapalhati breathing technique and slow inhales and exhales with holding on each. The still moments of holding the breath are perfect to find the tension and blocks in the body.
Becca´s last [type] ..burning the midnight kundalini fire

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Aileen July 8, 2010

Thank you for visiting Becca. There are some wonderful breathing techniques and the mix gives us a variety that keeps it from becoming routine.

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Louise July 7, 2010

Your post on BREATH/BREATHING hit the spot. Last year I had surgery and the breathing exercises I learned in my yoga class helped so much. I am 100% for this post.

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Aileen July 8, 2010

I can imagine how it must have helped during the recovery process – and the moments leading up to the surgery. Thank you for sharing

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Katie July 7, 2010

Ahhh, I feel more relaxed just thinking about it. Sleepy in fact, but that could be the insane heat. Very nice post, Aileen. Reminders we all need to slow down and do what comes naturally, breathe.
Katie´s last [type] ..10 Things I Wish I’d Known Earlier About the Birds -amp the Bees

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Aileen July 8, 2010

Breathing does come naturally – that’s the funny thing, – it’s natural and needs attention. In truth I think it needs attention because of the habitual busy ways we humans tend to live.

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Hulbert Lee July 7, 2010

It’s incredible how a simple technique such as breathing can do such much to help us relieve stress. I focus on my breathing when I’m in a period of pressure and stress and it does wonders to help me more relaxed. I’ve also read that deep breathing gives us more energy during the day from Tony Robbins. I enjoyed your tips here Aileen. Thanks for sharing!

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Aileen July 8, 2010

I’m a Tony Robbins fan too :) Deep breathing does give us more energy it’s invigorating as well as relaxing

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Abubakar Jamil July 8, 2010

Aileen,

Good to have landed on your blog from Manal’s blog.

Your tip seems quite simplistic on the surface but it’s depth and practical effect is a huge one. I know this because I use this myself.

Good read. Stumbled.

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Aileen July 8, 2010

Thank you for visiting and thank you for your thoughtful comment. I am fan of Manal, I love her blog. I’m off to visit your site now

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Baker July 9, 2010

Hey Aileen
I would agree. Breathing is so important to are overall health and vitality.
I have found that when I get too stressed out that coming back to the present and breathing
allows for me to relieve un wanted stress. Excellent tips!

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ashok July 11, 2010

Bookmarked this post – the description of what isn’t a deep breath is very useful, because it’s so easy to think one is breathing deeply and relaxing when one is actually tightening up.
ashok´s last [type] ..Emily Dickinson, “It is an honorable Thought” (946)

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