Breathing Exercise: Five Minutes to Zen
Question: What is the one stress management tool you ALWAYS have with you everywhere you go?
Deep breathing is the simplest way to calm ourselves down.
I work hard to teach my patients to immediately check in with their breathing when they are feeling stressed.
First, sit comfortably in a chair and make sure both feet are on the ground. Imagine that your feet are deeply “rooted” in the ground. Now check in with your breathing…
Breathe in deeply and slowly through your nose all the way in to your belly so that it visibly rises, and then exhale slowly and noisily out your open mouth. Do this five times. Identify the region that feels the most stressed in your body and place your hand on that area. Most people report tightness in their chest or abdomen, or both when they are feeling extremely anxious.
If you are tight in both then place your dominant hand on the area that is the most tight. For your chest place one hand horizontally right below your collar bone, for tightness in your belly, place the center of your palm over your belly button, or in the exact place that is tight. Breathe in to those areas as you visualize all the “stuck energy” and stress loosening up and flowing out of your body with your breath.
Sit quietly and breathe at least five minutes every time you find yourself feeling anxious or ungrounded. A few minutes to collect yourself will save you time in your day as you approach your stressful tasks feeling centered and grounded. You can also easily use this activity to help you fall asleep at night if stress is what is keeping you awake.
Remember that practicing stress management is akin to developing physical fitness. The more stressed or “out of shape” you are the tougher it will be to get in to the zone. However, the more you condition yourself the more “fit” you will quickly become. Getting in to a state of zen initially may take more than five minutes. But, the more you continue to practice this exercise, the more you will develop the skill of just slipping quickly in to a stress free state.
Personally after practicing this exercise for five years, I can usually quickly calm myself down just by lightly resting my hand below my collar bone. There is something very simple and soothing about the gesture of self care that seems to calm me right down.
~Dr. Nicole Sundene