Breathe and Be Free

Are you overwhelmed with bills to pay, work to do, people to call, things to do, doctors to see, treatments to pursue and questions to ask? STOP!!! And breathe. The best thing that we can do for ourselves is to breathe when we feel overwhelmed, stressed, and exhausted. Oxygen reduces fatigue, stress, and anxiety. In order to increase your oxygen intake, try doing a "mini". A mini is a relaxation exercise that focuses on breathing and can help reduce anxiety and tension instantaneously. You can do it at any time, anywhere. Nobody will ever know that you are doing it!

How do you do a mini? Begin by breathing from your stomach, which is known as diaphragmatic breathing. As you take a deep breath in (inhale), imagine that you are filling a balloon (your stomach) with air. Watch your stomach rise as it expands. As you breathe out (exhale), imagine the balloon slowly deflating and your stomach becoming smaller and flatter. Since most people are used to breathing with their chest (thoracic breathing), I recommend that you practice diaphragmatic breathing for at least two minutes a day so that you really get the hang of it.

Next, count slowly up to four while you take in a deep breath. Say "one, two three, four." Then, slowly count back down to one as you let your breath out. Say "four, three, two, one." That's it, you just did a mini. Do this several times when you are - stuck in traffic, waiting for a slow elevator, on your way to the doctor's office, waiting for your appointment, during your appointment, after your appointment, during a painful medical procedure, in the middle of a heated discussion with someone, etc. Just remember, the more oxygen, the less stress. So practice your minis! Best of luck.

Gayle D. Crespy, Psy.D., Program Director