Susan Lennon MSW, LCSW Content Strategist
Communications Consultant
Specializing in Thought Leadership and B2B/B2C Marketing Communications

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Stress: Breathe Deeply Five Minutes a Day
USA Weekend Magazine, November 6, 2005
by Susan T. Lennon

  Stress. It can be acute, episodic, or chronic, and for most of us, it’s a fact of life. We may not be able to change our stressful circumstances, but learning to chill out is essential for our health and well-being. And, it can be “as easy as breathing,” according to Linda Wasmer Andrews, MS, stress management consultant. Most of us take breathing for granted, “But if we trade shallow chest-breathing for deep abdominal breathing,” she advises, “it leads to a more efficient exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide and it helps you control those stressed-out feelings.”

How can we breathe better? The January issue of Mayo Clinic’s Women’s HealthSource offers these tips:

  1. Sit in a cozy chair with your feet on the floor (or lie down)
  2. Close your eyes, or focus them on one specific spot in the room
  3. Concentrate on your breathing while inhaling slowly through your nose
  4. Imagine your diaphragm (the muscle that separates your lungs and heart from your abdominal cavity moving downward as you fill your lungs with fresh, cleansing air
  5. Allow your lower abdomen to relax and inflate as you continue breathing in slowly through your nose
  6. When your lungs and stomach are full, slowly breathe out through your mouth and, now, as your stomach contracts, visualize your diaphragm collapsing
  7. Repeat for several minutes. If your mind wanders, simply return your attention to your breathing. Don’t stress about it, counsels Wasmer Andrews
  8. When you are ready to end the session, don’t stop abruptly. Slowly regain a sense of your surroundings

The Mayo Clinic advises that even five minutes of daily deep breathing will help calm you. Practice often to decrease anxiety, preserve energy, enhance sleep, perk up concentration, and ease muscle tension. Ultimately, you’ll reduce the harmful effects of stress on your health.

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