Deep Breathing

It is easier to learn this in the presence of a professional or via audio (see www.umfer.org to get mp3s with this exercise on it). Begin by sitting in a chair. Once you learn this you can do it lying down or while in line at the grocery store. First test your breathing by timing for one minute how many breaths you take, with each inhale and exhale counting as one. Notice how high your count is. Most people take on average between 15-17 breaths per minute. You likely are taking short shallow breaths. The goal is to get between 3-6. And no I’m not on acid.

Now place your hands over your belly, and with your mouth closed take in a deep slow breath while pushing your belly out, hold it for a few seconds feeling the oxygen and slowly let it out. Notice the difference already huh. Do it again, with each inhale you are filling your belly with air like blowing up a balloon and holding your breath then slowly letting it out. If you get dizzy or lightheaded then speed the breath up. The goal is to relax not pass out.

Now time yourself again for one minute doing the deep belly breathing aka diaphragmatic breathing, and see what your count is. If it is not at 3-6 breaths per minute try again. Most people get it the first time, because we come into this world breathing this way. Imagine a baby on its back, how the belly expands. This is what you will be doing. No more sucking in your abs or wearing constrictive clothing, unless you like being stressed out and uncomfortable.

Once you have your count down, spend at least 10 minutes a day doing this. Anxious people should work up to 30 minutes daily. To keep mental chatter away focus on a mantra, a word or phrase, the entire time. Some people use the word one, breathe, relax, release etc. You are breathing anyway or you’d be dead, so there is no excuse. You are simply breathing more deeply and slowly. I tell some patients to email and text themselves to breathe to remind them throughout the day to slow down. I have breathe stickers strategically placed in my office to remind patients and myself as well. The benefits of deep breathing are mentioned in another blog. Read that if you need motivating. However; I think once you do this for 10 minutes you will feel much calmer and centered, and that will motivate you. Visit www.umfer.org for information on self hypnosis mp3s.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Umfer is a licensed clnical psychologist. She is also a certified meditation instructor and certified clinical hypnotherapist.