Simple Acts of Calm: Measured Breathing Stress Relief Technique

Breathing is a unique physical act. It's the only automatic function your body performs over which you can also have control, when you learn to focus on and direct your breath you have positive impact on your well-being.

Working with your breath can help you relieve stress and it's accompanying symptoms slow your heart rate, calm your nerves, reduce tension, improve oxygenation to all cells in your body, and support your immune system.

Here's one simple way to work with your breath to reduce tension and feel calm in just a few minutes, you can practice this anywhere and any time, it's one of those handy little stress reducing moves that are invisible, no-one can see you're doing it, so you can practice at traffic lights, on a train or bus, while standing in a queue, in meetings, or at school pick up time. You can try it if some one is irritating you, or if you feel anxious or angry, and within a couple of minutes you will begin to feel relaxed.

How to Do the Measured Breath Stress Relief Technique

1. You can sit or stand, but do try and soften up a little before you begin. Drop your shoulders and let your jaw relax.

2. Now breath in slowly through your nose and count to four. Keep your shoulders down and allow your stomach to expand as you do.

3. Hold your breath for a moment.

4. Now release your breath as you count to seven.

5. Repeat for a couple of minutes (or as long as you feel like it).

You'll have noticed that you are taking longer to breath out than you are to inhale. This is common in many relaxing breathing exercises, when you lengthen your outgoing breath you release more carbon dioxide from your system which is both cleansing and relaxing.

The pause between your incoming and outgoing breath gives you a moment of stillness where everything is suspended, if you can learn to focus on that moment you will find it a really pleasant experience - a true pause for thought, where everything stops for a second and you get a real break. I've been practising this for a few years now and it feels better and better over time.

Photo by wetwater