When you or your kids are stressed and need to relax, don't point them to the TV or the pantry. You won't find real relief in chips or channels. Instead, take a deep breath.
Deep breathing is an easy way to relax and let your worries go. You can do it pretty much anywhere, and it only takes a few minutes to do.
Deep breathing -- also called belly breathing, diaphragmatic breathing, and abdominal breathing -- helps ease stress. It can also lower your blood pressure and relax tense muscles. Learning healthy ways to relax can help you avoid unhealthy choices. When you’re stressed it can be harder to make healthy choices like picking good foods or finding the motivation to be physically active. When you’re relaxed you can be more mindful.
In this step-by-step guide, you'll learn how to blow away your stress, then teach your kids. Everyone can benefit from a little calming, healthy relaxation.
1. Find a comfortable, quiet place to sit or lie down. Choose a place where you know you won't be disturbed. If sitting, keep your back straight and your feet flat on the floor. Close your eyes.
2. Place one hand on your belly, just below your ribs. Place the other hand on your chest.
3. Take a regular breath.
4. Now take a slow, deep breath. Breathe in slowly through your nose. Pay attention as your belly swells up under your hand.
5. Holding your breath, pause for a second or two.
6. Slowly breathe out through your mouth. Pay attention as the hand on your belly goes in with the breath.
7. Do this several times until you have a calming rhythm.
8. Now add images to your breathing. As you breathe in, imagine that the air you're breathing is washing relaxation and calmness throughout your body.
9. As you breathe out, imagine that stress and tension are being whooshed away.
10. Try to deep breathe for 10 minutes or until you feel relaxed and less stressed. Gradually work your way up to 15-20 minutes.
If you're frazzled and don't have 10 minutes to de-stress, even a few deep breaths can help. Once you've practiced deep breathing a few times, a mini-version of this exercise can help ease tension. Just imagine stress being swept away with each breath, and you may calm your anxiety in just a minute or two.
Try to schedule time for breathing relaxation every day. You may want to start your day with it, so you don't forget and so you can start your day stress-free. Or you may want to wait until afternoon when the kids are home from school and do it together. It can help them wash away some of the stress of their day and prepare everyone for a calmer, more relaxing evening. Deep breathing before bed can be a soothing part of a bedtime routine.
Once you learn how to deep breathe, you can use it to calm you anywhere. When you're sitting at your desk or doing work around the house, be aware of your breathing and let stress fade away.