DIAPHRAGMATIC BREATHING to reduce anxiety and stress
The purpose of diaphragmatic breathing is to enable you to quickly clear mental stress, tension, and anxious thinking. The exercise can be used when feeling stressed and is particularly useful when your mind is racing with fearful, anxious thinking.
When practiced frequently, it is very effective for eliminating deep-seated mental anxieties or intrusive thoughts. To gain maximum benefit, the exercise must be carried out for longer than 10 minutes at a time, as anything shorter will not bring noticeable results.
It is best to do this exercise in a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed, Then when you are more practiced you will be able to get the same positive results in a busier environment such as the workplace. You should notice a calming effect on your state of mind along with a sensation of mental release and relaxation.
Preferably lie down or sit, then close your eyes and move your attention to your breath. To become aware of your breathing, place one hand on your upper chest and one on your belly. Take a breath and let your belly swell forward as you breathe in and fall back gently as you breathe out. Take the same depth of breath each time and try to get a steady rhythm going.
Your hand on your chest should have little or no movement. Again, try to take the same depth of breath each time you breathe in. This is called Diaphragmatic Breathing.
When you feel comfortable with this technique, try to slow your breathing rate down by instituting a short pause after you have breathed out and before you breathe in again. Initially, it may feel as though you are not getting enough air in, but with regular practice this slower rate will soon start to feel comfortable.
It is often helpful to develop a cycle where you count to three when you breathe in, pause, and then count to three when you breathe out (or 2, or 4—whatever is comfortable for you). This will also help you focus on your breathing without any other thoughts coming into your mind.
If you are aware of other thoughts entering your mind, just let them go and bring your attention back to counting and breathing. Continue doing this for a few minutes. (If you practice this, you will begin to strengthen the Diaphragmatic Muscle, and it will start to work normally – leaving you with a nice, relaxed feeling all of the time.)