When you don’t have time to see your massage therapist, you can relieve stress through breathing. When under stress, your breathing typically becomes fast and shallow. You breathe from your chest instead of taking deep relaxed breaths from your abdomen. This heightens your stress and causes unwanted tension through your neck and shoulders.
You can break this pattern by using deep breathing, or “diaphragmatic breathing” as it is sometimes called. As you do this diaphragmatic breathing you will feel the tension releasing from your back, neck, shoulders and chest. As your breathing becomes more relaxed your mind will relax and you’ll feel less stress and anxiety.
To learn how to do this, place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen and follow the instructions that accompany the illustrations. You can do this either sitting or lying. Focus on the sensations you are feeling in your body as you breathe. Repeat this sequence six to eight times. If you start to feel light headed stop immediately. Practice this several times a day. If you do this exercise when you are relaxed, it will be much easier to perform when you are feeling stressed.
Start by exhaling to completely empty the air from your lungs. Feel your chest drop first and then your belly.
Now inhale slowly directing the air into your abdomen. You should feel your belly start to rise.
As you continue to breathe in your chest will also rise. When your lungs are full, hold your breath for several seconds and then slowly exhale.
Try and make the inhalation and exhalation the same length of time. This deep breathing provides internal massage for your organs, extra oxygen which is essential for every single cell and is a great way to relieve stress and anxiety. Use this simple technique anytime you become stressed, nervous or anxious, such as before important meetings, when dealing with difficult situations, when deadlines are tight or even when playing sport competitivley. In a matter of a few minutes you will feel calmer, more focused and capable of dealing with whatever you are facing.
For instance if you are feeling emotional close your eyes, take a deep breath and imagine that you are breathing in through your heart. As you breathe out imagine that you are breathing out through your belly button. As you breath in a few times you will start to feel relaxation sensations in the area you are breathing into. As you practice heart breathing you will begin to feel more open in that area.
You can direct your breathing to any part of your body, imagine you are breathing in through your fingertips or through the bottom of your feet. When shoulders are feeling tight practice deep breathing and imagine you are breathing in through the shoulders and back of the neck and out the belly button. Imagine seeing the breath come out of your belly button. Keep your eyes closed as you do this.
As you practice you can bring attention and relaxation to any part of the body that is feeling tight or heavy. This simple exercise can be done at any time during the day even on the bus or train as a way to unwind from the day. Deep breathing is a great way to relieve stress and importantly to reconnect with you.