We breathe without giving it any thought. Inhale. Exhale.
What if I told you the way you breathe can affect your stress level? Would you think about it then?
Turns out abdominal breathing sends more oxygen into your blood stream. This is a good thing. The oxygen improves the lactate levels in your blood and lowers the lactic acid in your body. Lactic acid contributes to anxiety.
Try to practice abdominal breathing at least twice a day - or, whenever you find your mind dwelling on upsetting thoughts or when you experience pain.
· Place one hand your abdomen. When you take a deep breath in, the hand on your abdomen should rise as you inhale and fall as you exhale. You want to fill your entire lung with air.
· After exhaling through the mouth, take a slow deep breath in through your nose and hold it.
· Slowly exhale through your mouth. As all the air is released with relaxation, gently contract your abdominal muscles to completely evacuate the remaining air from the lungs. Remember, respiration deepens not by inhaling more air but through completely exhaling it.
· Repeat the cycle four more times for a total of 5 deep breaths and try to breathe at a rate of one breath every 10 seconds (or 6 breaths per minute).
Once you feel comfortable practicing the technique, you may incorporate words to enhance the exercise. For example, you might say to yourself the word, relaxation (with inhalation) and stress or anger (with exhalation). The idea being to bring in the feeling/emotion you want with inhalation and release those you don't want with exhalation.