RADICAL STRESS REDUCTION TECHNIQUES - BREATHING
Stress can be defined as, "a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances." How people experience stress is very individual and depends on a number of factors and influences. Regardless, all human beings experience some sort of increased and unmanageable stress at some point in their lives.
Here are some quick stress reduction techniques using BREATHING that you can do anywhere. Please take caution to be in a safe place if you are practicing this exercise and choose to close your eyes.
Follow Your Breath: Goal of this exercise is to simply keep your attention on the breath cycle and observe. No matter how your breath changes – whether it speeds up or slows down – no matter how subtle or small, just continue to follow it. Here is the exercise:
Sit in a comfortable position with your eyes closed and back straight, both feet planted firmly and flatly on the floor. Loosen any tight clothing.
Focus your attention on your breathing without trying to influence it in any way
Follow the contours of the breath cycle through inhalation and exhalation and see if you can perceive the points at which one phase changes into the other. Notice if your mind wanders off of your breath and simply gently remind yourself, "focus on my breath."
Repeat this cycle for a few minutes, noticing your breath's natural rhythm.
Focused Abdominal Breathing (Diaphragmatic Breathing): Sit in a comfortable upright position with your back against your chair and your feet on the ground. Keep your back straight, but let your shoulders and the rest or your body be very relaxed.
Place your left hand on your abdomen. Imagine that the entire area from your lower abdomen up to your chest is one large, rectangular balloon. Now, start by exhaling as completely as possible. Empty out your air. Your left hand will move inwards as the “balloon” area deflates. Now, slowly and gently, inhale, imagining that you are filling the balloon starting from the bottom, all the way up to the top. When you are breathing correctly from your abdomen, your lower abdomen will inflate, followed by your chest expanding, and your left hand will be pushed outward. Your shoulders will not go up, they will stay in place.
Keep an erect posture as you practice this exercise, being mindful to not slouch. Focus on puffing out your belly in order to get air into your lower abdomen. You can test to see if you are breathing deeply enough by placing the palm of your hand in front of your face and breathing air onto it. If the air feels warm or hot, your breath is deep. If the air feels cool or cold, you are likely breathing from your chest and might need to go a bit deeper.
Repeat this cycle of diaphragmatic breathing several times until you experience physical and mental relaxation. Take a break to notice a and appreciate how you feel.
Square Breathing: Imagine a square that you are tracing the outsides of in your mind as you are breathing. So you will inhale to the count of 4, hold for the count of four, exhale for count of four and rest for the count of four.
It might help if you trace an imaginary square with your index finger in the air or on your leg as you practice.
Inhale 2-3-4, Hold 2-3-4, Exhale 2-3-4, Rest 2-3-4. Repeat.
These Radical Stress Reduction Breathing Techniques are designed to help you focus your attention on your breath to reduce your stress. Practice as many times a day as you would like; even 30 seconds to a minute of practice can help calm your nervous system and decrease the feelings of stress in your mind and your body ☮️.