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Drowning in Stress? Stop and Breathe

By Sandy Schroeder

We all hit those times when one crisis follows another to turn our days or weeks into chaos. Before you give in to the situation, pause for a second and find out what your breath can do for you.

You may be struggling with deadlines, confused by conflicting demands, or simply overloaded with too much stuff to do, but it may all flow better when you get a grip and relax.

We breathe all of the time, but our breath also has the power to lower stress and anxiety, polish our coping skills, help with substance abuse, and boost our self-esteem and sense of wellness.

A conscious focus on the breath can ease the mind and help us connect with our inner resources.

Try These Breathing Exercises

From, here's a simple meditation

  • Shut down your phone or computer
  • Sit up straight to let your breath flow through your body
  • Let your eyes relax as you focus on a plant or a glowing candle and avoid distractions
  • Focus on your breathing as your stomach rises and falls and your chest moves up and down
  • Silently count your breath. After the inhale count one. After the exhale count two. Continue until you get to five. If your mind starts to wonder, bring it back to focusing on your breath and continue counting
  • As you breathe you may be more aware of the temperature or sounds around you
  • Gradually return to your day, easing back into your normal activities

If this works for you, use your breath exercise whenever you need a break.

Mind and Body Standing Breath Exercise

Use this exercise wherever you are.

  • Stand and bend forward from the waist
  • Inhale slowly and deeply
  • Roll the body back up raising the abdomen, chest and shoulders before the head
  • When standing hold your breath
  • Then bend forward again and slowly exhale

Do the 4-7 Breath Count to Go to Sleep

Let go of the day with this exercise.

  • Exhale through the mouth with a whoosh
  • Close the mouth and inhale through the nose to a count of four
  • Hold your breath for a count of seven
  • Exhale through the mouth with a whoosh to the count of eight
  • Repeat this cycle three times.

If these breath exercises work for you, look for others that help you break the cycle of stress and relax wherever you are. When they become part of your normal routine, you may find everything feels better and works better. It's easy to stay in control when stress is not clouding the mind and taxing the body.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Chula Vista, Calif.

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