Your Personal Best: Belly Breathing

Let’s face it. Life is stressful, and we all need a way to cope. One good way? Just breathe.

Dr. Milady Murphy said when you’re dealing with life’s stressors, the American Psychological Association highly recommends positive coping techniques. One such technique that’s easiest to implement is known as diaphragmatic breathing.

“It can be done sitting in a chair or lying down,” Murphy said.

Here’s how you do it:

  • Relax your shoulders and place your feet on the floor if you’re sitting
  • Place one hand on your chest and one on your belly
  • Breathe in comfortably on a count of four through your nose, past your chest and bring it down to the belly
    • If that’s difficult, you can breathe through your mouth
  • Gently exhale on a count of four
  • Repeat for as little as one minute or as long as 10 minutes

This technique can be done twice or three times a day, or whenever you need a moment to destress.

“It may take a little practice at first, but visualize the breath going deep into the body and when you exhale visualize that breath as well,” Murphy said. “The combination of that technique relaxes the body and mind and also provides other health benefits.”

By bringing in oxygen deep into the system, you’re releasing endorphins that relax the body and mind but also strengthening your lungs and heart and lowering blood pressure.

If your stress or anxiety becomes overwhelming, it’s important to work with a doctor and get the right guidance on how to overcome it.

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