If you'd like to be guided through this practice, check out my podcast on Spotify.
There really is such power in our breath. Simply practicing how to get fuller, deeper, more satisfying breaths has a great impact on the stress we feel.
Often times where we are overwhelmed with stress or anxiety, we tend to experience shallow, unfulfilling breathing which leaves us...well...breathless. Which of course only exasperates the problem as we then tend to think we are dying or are having a heart attack. (Hey panic)
The good news is that there are so many different ways to regain control of your breathing, therefore increasing feeling calm and grounded. One of the options you have is to practice something called Belly Breathing. Basically this is simply a practice of sending your breath all the way down to your lower abdomen, rather than breathing solely into your chest.
If you've never tried this before, I encourage you to experiment with your breath by placing one hand on your heart and one on your belly. As you inhale, notice which hands moves more. Is it the hand placed over your heart or the one on your belly?
Try a few breaths as you imagine sending breath to your lower abdomen as you inhale.
When you practice this way, notice your belly-placed hand rise as you inhale and lower as you exhale. Observe how your chest and shoulders stay relatively still when the breath travels to your belly and fills your lungs more deeply. Observe the fullness of breath you can have when you intentionally focus on how you breathe. Allow yourself to be kind and gentle with yourself, especially if you are new to this practice. As with most things in life, it will take practice and repetition to feel comfortable with a new skill.
Bonus - If you practice breathing techniques like this when you are not feeling overly stressed or anxious, your mind and body tend to remember how it felt during the practice and will therefore have an easier time thinking to use this as a way to calm down when you actually are feeling stress or anxiety. Not to mention, this type of practice leads to feeling relaxed as you practice it because it activates your body's amazing calming system. Pretty cool right?
You can check in for weekly guided meditations and other mindfulness practices here and on my podcast, Mindful Moments. Listen on AnchorFM or Spotify.
Katie McLaughlin, LPC