Inhale. Exhale. Feel Better.

10.25.2022

Deep breaths are like little love notes to your body.” – Author Unknown
 
Feeling anxious or stressed? Your breath is a powerful tool to ease stress and help you reduce tension.
 
You may not pay attention to how you inhale and exhale. That’s because breathing is naturally always there in the background. It’s your body’s way of nourishing your life every moment.
 
Instead of ignoring your breath, you can purposefully use its power to improve how you feel. The advice to “take a deep breath” when stressed or upset really works! 

Why deep breathing makes a difference in your well-being

When stressed, the body defaults to short, shallow breathing. This restricts air flow and increases uncomfortable sensations, like a racing heart or tension in the body.
 
Deep breathing allows more air to flow into your body. That helps calm your nerves and reduce tension.
 
When you take in long, deep breaths and make your exhales slow and long, your heart rate slows down. It’s a signal to your brain that it’s OK to relax. An intentional, deep breath is easy and a handy way to care for yourself.
 
Try these simple ways to use your breath to send your body some love! Make them part of a regular routine and use them anywhere, anytime. It can make a big difference in your well-being. 

Deep Breathing (also known as diaphragmatic or belly breathing)

  1. Sit or lie down on a comfortable, flat surface.
  2. Relax your shoulders, shifting them downward away from the ears.
  3. Put a hand on your chest and a hand on your stomach.
  4. Without straining or pushing, breathe in through your nose until you can’t take in any more air.
  5. Feel the air moving through your nostrils into your abdomen, expanding your stomach and sides of the waist. Your chest remains relatively still.
  6. Purse your lips as if sipping through a straw. Exhale slowly through the lips and feel the stomach gently contract.
  7. Repeat these steps several times for best results.

 Box Breathing (also known as square breathing or 4X4 breathing)

  1. Sit or stand upright.
  2. Slowly exhale through your mouth, getting all the oxygen out of your lungs.
  3. Inhale deeply as you count slowly to four, filling the lungs completely but without strain.
  4. Hold the breath while counting slowly to four.
  5. Exhale and release the breath slowly and completely to the count of four.
  6. Hold the breath out for the count of four.
  7. Repeat the cycle for 5 to10 rounds.

Rita Gingrich is a mind-body counselor and certified oncology social worker at Goshen Center for Cancer Care. She helps patients with cancer and their families cope with the diagnosis, active treatment, and transition from treatment to survivorship. Through her knowledge, skills and compassion to actively listen, Rita helps patients deal with the psychological, social, emotional and spiritual issues that are part of living with cancer.