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How Do You Take a Deep Breath? : Stress Management

According to the American Psychological Association, “77% of people report experiencing physical symptoms related to stress”.

Deep breathing is a stress management technique that not only decreases stress but also improves your health and the quality of life.

But why is that? And how could you make sure you’re doing it correctly?

When we are in a stressful situation, our diaphragm flattens and we begin to breathe shallowly. This not only increases:

•Our stress level

•Increases our heart rate

•Causes dizziness

•Causes muscle tension

This may also signal your body to produce a stress response that contributes to anxiety and panic attacks.

A few benefits of deep breathing:

  • Blood pressure lowers

  • Muscles relax

  • Releases toxins

  • Nervous system becomes calmer (helping with anxiety)

  • Strengthens the immune system (helps tissues regenerate and heal)

So let’s test the way you take deep breaths. Sounds silly right? Shouldn’t breathing be common sense? Unfortunately, it’s not.

I want you to place your hand on your belly. Take a deep breath in and then out. What happened to your belly when you were breathing IN? Did you suck it in? Did it expand and look full?

Try it again and take note of what happens.

Your belly should go OUT (expand) as you breathe in and flatten as you breathe out. Use the diagram below for help.

If your belly flattened as you inhaled, it’s likely that your shoulders raised a little bit too. It’s very important to keep your shoulders relaxed as your breathing to avoid this from happening.

Be MINDFUL of how your breathing.

When your child is nervous, worried, anxious, make sure to TEACH your child how to breathe appropriately instead of just telling them to "take deep breaths".

Let’s practice:

Find a quiet place to sit down and inhale slowly through the nose, drawing air deep into the lungs. Hold the breath there for about 5 seconds, then release it slowly. Repeat the exercise five times.

Remember, you have the power to deliberately change your own breathing to live a healthier life. Take control and be mindful as stressful situations arise.

If you or a loved one has trouble managing stress or anxiety please contact a Mental Health Professional in your area for more help.

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