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When we are anxious or threatened, our breathing speeds up in order to get our body ready for danger. Relaxed breathing signals that it is time to relax. This type of breathing is slower and deeper than normal and it comes from your belly.
Start by sitting comfortably in a chair or lying down on your back.
Close your eyes if you are comfortable doing so.
Breathe normally in through your nose and out through your mouth.
Slow down your breathing. Inhale, slow and steady, to a count of 4, hold for a count of 4, exhale for a count of 4 and pause for the count of 4. This is also called square breathing. If a four second count doesn’t work for you, try a three second count or a five second count.
Are you belly breathing? Place one hand on your belly just below your ribs and one hand on your chest. Try to keep the top hand still as your breath should only move your bottom hand.
Books in our Library on Stress Management
Too Stressed to Think? by Annie Fox; Ruth Kirschner; Elizabeth Verdick (Editor)
Call Number: 155.518 FOX
Publication Date: 2005-09-15
Stress: Find out how to handle it! by Anita Naik
Call Number: 155.9 NAI
Managing Stress by Justin Healey
Call Number: 155.9042 MAN
Resilience and Coping Skills by Justin Healey
Call Number: 155.24 RES
Prepare: Find a comfortable place to sit down. Choose somewhere that is free from many noisy things that can be distractions. Make sure you are sitting upright with a tall spine, either on the floor or in a chair. Situate yourself in this moment and begin bringing your attention to your breath.
Notice Your Experience: Close your eyes if you feel comfortable doing so. Deliberately become aware of your thoughts and feelings in this moment. What sensations do you feel in your body? What thoughts are you thinking? What are you feeling? Recognize these as your experience even if they are uninvited.
Focus Attention on the Present: Begin to focus on your breath. Feel the air as it enters your body on the inhale and the air as you exhale. Simply become aware of your breathing without trying to modify your rhythm. Notice if your breath is long or short, rough or smooth. Is it cool on the inhale and warm on the exhale? Bring attention to the slight pause you may feel after each inhale and exhale.
Return to the Present: You may notice your mind begins to wander to thoughts of the day, worries or fears. This is perfectly natural. Recognize these as thoughts and choose a word or phrase that summarizes and validates them. Gently bring your attention back to your breath as you inhale and exhale. Notice how your breath affects your whole body in a sensory way. Continue bringing your attention to your breath and body labeling thoughts and emotions as they arise.