Ready to Leave Your Stress Behind? Take a Deep Breath
By Sandy Schroeder
Often we use music or exercise to blot out stress. Sometimes that works, sometimes not. I often pull on my sneakers and turn up the tunes when I have had a bad day, hoping to come back feeling better. As I head out to the park, if I am lucky all of those worries and pressures begin to lift.
If you are still looking for the best answer to make stress behave, your breath may provide a fresh solution. I tried both of these exercises and found them easy to use throughout the day, helpful later to wind down for the night. After a full day of moving fast, it was very satisfying to simply pause and let my breath do the work.
How It Works
The idea is to funnel your thoughts and worries into a focused breathing that eases your mind and body, according to Dr. Luke Jih in Easy Health Options. These exercises begin with all of the thoughts spinning through your head, gradually merging them with your body and your breath to help you relax and let go of stress.
Breathe From Your Body
Stand with your feet spread, a little over a shoulder’s width apart. As you inhale, slowly lift your arms up over your head.
As you breathe in, think about your breath moving up from your feet to your legs, on through the spine to the top of your head and up through your arms out into your fingers. That’s full body breathing, tracing your breath throughout your body. The goal is to pull the energy up and open your lungs as you focus your mind. When I tried this I imagined the air whistling through my body.
Then slowly lower your arms as you exhale, keeping your arms in front of you, fingers pointing toward each other tracing the front of the body. It may take a little practice to match your inhaling and exhaling with the movement of your arms. Repeat the exercise five times, relaxing a little more with each one.
Breathe From Your Belly
Stand up and spread your feet a little over a shoulder’s width apart. Place your left hand on your belly with your right hand on top and focus on your breath. Inhale as you gently push into your belly. Then breathe out feeling your belly push your hands outward. Feel your body relax as you repeat five times.
If using your breath proves to be a good tool for you, Dr. Andrew Weil’s 4-7-8 breathing exercise may be worth trying, too. If it works well it may help you fall asleep in a matter of minutes.
To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Tampa, Fla.