This article originally appeared in The Hoboken Reporter on October 14, 2012
Are you stressed out? Have you tried unsuccessfully to fit “relaxation time” into your busy life by signing up for a yoga class but haven’t been back since the first session? You’re not alone. In fact, most of us have been too stressed to think about stress. Or, your solution for reducing stress is too great – I don’t have time for a vacation!
The truth is, finding ways to reduce stress when you’re already overwhelmed with deadlines at work, kids, soccer practice, friends and everything else, is seemingly impossible. I’m here to introduce you to a technique that will not only fit into your “I’m so busy I can’t fit in another thing” schedule, but it’s free.
Take a deep breath right now…in and out. I’ll bet that most of you reading this inhaled, expanded your chest, and exhaled. This type of breathing is typical, shallow breathing that does not allow the diaphragm to contract and subsequently relax.
The key to using breathing to your advantage is to start by becoming more aware of its rhythm. Diaphragmatic Breathing aka Belly Breathing, is the key component to successfully using breathing to de-stress. It allows a person to maximize the amount of oxygen going into the bloodstream, effectively allowing the body and mind to relax.
Belly Breathing, as the name indicates, involves expansion of the abdomen rather than the chest, which allows the body to absorb the inhaled oxygen while simultaneously relaxing the breather.
How to Belly Breathe
Step 1: Wear comfortable/loose clothing. Lie on your back and close your eyes.
Step 2: Place one hand over your belly and one over your chest.
Step 3: Slowly inhale through your nose for 5 seconds by drawing breath deep into your stomach, allowing your abdomen to expand.
Step 4: Slowly and completely exhale through your nose for 5 seconds as your abdomen contracts.
Step 5: Pay attention to your hands. If the hand on your chest is rising and falling, you are not Belly Breathing. Return your focus to your belly and try again.
Step 6: Continue Belly Breathing for 3 minutes each day as an easy solution to stress reduction.
The benefits of Belly Breathing will be obvious – immediately and long-term. With continuous practice, you will learn to use breathing to calm your body and mind. You will see things more clearly. You will be aware of your options in stressful situations and make appropriate choices rather than becoming overwhelmed and impulsive. Most importantly, you will learn to be proactive in your stress management rather than reactive.
To learn more about getting control of your life and your stressors, contact Talia Filippelli, LCSW at firstname.lastname@example.org for your free consultation.
Talia Filippelli, LCSW
Owner of Starr Psychotherapy
306 Washington Street
Hoboken, NJ 07030