If you are feeling tense and stressed, relief may be only a breath away. Use the time-honored stress reduction technique of deep (also known as diaphragmatic) breathing to relax muscles and reduce your stress. Breathing exercises can help you relax and increase your happiness and sense of well-being because they make your body feel like it does when it is in a state of relaxation.
Deep breathing involves your diaphragm, a large muscle in your abdomen, and is marked by the expansion of the abdomen rather than the chest. Although the focus seems to be on the abdomen, during deep breathing, the lungs are filled with much more oxygen than during shallow or chest-breathing. Breathing oxygenates every cell of your body and deep breathing raises levels of blood oxygen, promoting health by stimulating the digestive process and by improving fitness and mental performance. Shallow or chest-breathing, on the other hand, causes a constriction of the chest and lung tissue over time, decreasing oxygen flow and delivery to your tissues.
To do deep breathing effectively, slowly inhale through your nose or mouth. Put a hand on your stomach, and as you inhale, feel your stomach gently expand. Pause for about five seconds, and then slowly exhale through your mouth, pushing out all the breath you inhaled. Feel you stomach contract. Repeat a few more times. If you feel yourself become light-headed, take a break or slow down your breathing.
You can add some very simple visualizations to maximize the benefits of deep breathing. When you inhale, imagine that you are breathing in peace and relaxation. On your exhale, imagine that you are breathing out all the stress and tension that your body is holding. Breath in peace, breathe out tension.
Another simple technique that many find helpful is to work with color and your breath. Ask yourself, what color would benefit you? Then, imagine breathing in the color or colors that come to mind for you. Breathe in that color and imagine it saturating every cell of your being. Most people who do this find that it is very relaxing and nurturing.
For added comfort during your deep breathing, gently rest one hand on your heart. Placing your hand on your heart is an excellent way to give yourself a little extra self-care.
Improve your energy, release tension and stress, and simply relax by practicing deep breathing. With approximately 20,000 breaths each day, you have plenty of opportunities to practice! Add simple visualizations to increase the sense of well-being optimal breathing can deliver to you!