When you’re stressed, sometimes it’s hard to believe anything will be able to defuse it — especially a breathing exercise you think will make you feel silly at best and degenerate into hyperventilation at the worst given your current state.
It helps if you learn it in a noncrisis situation first, so you can get the rhythm of your breathing and thoughts in some order. It’s important to focus on the sensations of inhaling and exhaling.
The point is to draw your thoughts and fears away from the stress of what just happened or what you fear is going to happen. This will ground you in your body and the present moment and bring you peace.
Here are two established deep-breathing exercises to try when you have time to learn about this soothing, meditative ritual.
1. Sit or lie flat in a comfortable position.
2. Put one hand on your belly just below your ribs and the other hand on your chest.
3. Take a deep breath in through your nose, and let your belly push your hand out. Your chest should not move.
4. Breathe out through pursed lips as if you were whistling. Feel the hand on your belly go in and use it to push all the air out.
5. Do this 3 to 10 times. Take your time with each breath.
6. Notice how you feel at the end of the exercise.
Try this exercise when you first get up in the morning to clear clogged breathing passages. Then use it throughout the day to relieve back tension.
1. Letting your arms dangle close to the floor.
2. As you inhale slowly and deeply, return to a standing position by rolling up slowing, lifting your head last.
3. Hold your breath for just a few seconds in this standing position.
4. Exhale slowly as you return to the original position, bending forward from the waist.
5. Notice how you feel at the end of the exercise.