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Secret stress reliever

by Mary Mazzoni on April 7, 2012

Put your money away. This is free. Available to you anywhere. Anytime.

Little children do it without thinking, but most grown-ups have forgotten how.

No, it’s not a cure-all for stress and anxiety – but it’s a powerful tool. I was reminded of it this week via a pink paper airplane!

I’d been crunching numbers for hours, writing a grant proposal. Ever-mindful of a looming deadline, I was muttering to myself in frustration.

When the plane wafted onto my desk, I jumped! Then I burst out laughing. My friend Josie had lightened my tense mood in an instant. (Laughter will do that).

What’s more, she had written a reminder on that sweet pink paper plane…

Take a deep breath!

I did. And it helped. A lot!

Harvard Medical School explains that proper breathing is “one of our body’s strongest self-healing mechanisms”.

If you’re like most adults, your breath is often shallow “chest breathing”, rather than the deep “belly breathing” of babies and young children.

According to Health Central, proper “diaphragm” or “belly” breathing increases energy levels and improves focus and concentration. It affects every system of our body, revitalizing cells, organs and tissue. ”Belly” breathing reduces tension and anxiety, helping us feel more calm and relaxed. Practiced over time, belly breathing can even strengthen the immune system, increase metabolism and moderate blood pressure.

Though not a cure-all, full belly breathing really does improve overall well-being.

How to “belly” breathe

Here are some simple resources to re-learn and practice “belly” or “diaphragm” breathing:

Day-to-day practice

Here are some simple ways to put “belly” breathing into practical daily practice.

First, we can reserve just a few moments of quiet time every day to practice our belly breathing.

Then, we can develop a habit of noticing when tension and anxiety begin to build in the course of our day. If we pause for just a moment to belly breathe intentionally, we may be really surprised at how much better we feel.

Consider teaching your teen to belly breathe. For some kids, its a favorite calming and wellness toolbox strategy.

Your turn

Do you pause for deep belly breaths when you’re feeling stressed? What other calming strategies do you use when stress builds in your life? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!

If you found this post helpful, please share it. Thanks! (And take a moment now to – breathe!)

Graphic by YoLaGringo at Flickr

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Josie April 7, 2012 at 5:48 pm

Sometimes it’s just that we need a reminder and then the recognition that a deep breath doesn’t take long. And a good friend to make you laugh, well that’s just a bonus. So blessed by your friendship. J

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