If you had $1,440 in your wallet, how much would you spend to instantly feel healthier and happier?

The thing is, you don’t actually need a loonie or any cash at all to achieve this effect. All you have to do is spare a SINGLE MINUTE of your day — which contains 1,440 minutes — and take five deep breaths.

Can deep breathing lower your blood pressure? It can! Is deep breathing good for anxiety? You bet it is! It’s truly amazing what deep breathing can do for you. By lowering stress, deep breathing can improve your quality and quantity of sleep, help keep your weight in check, and reduce the risk of heart attack.

Here’s how to properly take a deep breath and reduce stress quickly:

Step 1: Stop what you’re doing.

Find a comfortable place to sit down. If you can’t sit, standing works just fine.

Step 2: Close your eyes and focus on your breathing.

If you get distracted — by daily worries, let’s say, or a car stereo blasting AC/DC — focus on the distraction for a moment and then redirect your attention back to your breathing.

Step 3: Count “one” as you inhale.

Many people breathe from their chest, which doesn’t make the most of deep breathing. Try to breathe deep into your stomach. You’re on the right track if your stomach rises first.

Step 4: Count “two” as you exhale.

Keeping counting, and inhaling and exhaling, until you get to 10. By then, you’ll have taken five deep breaths in about a minute. Run through this easy routine once, and you’ll feel better. Do it a couple more times, and you’ll feel the stress and tension melt away like an ice cube in a campfire.

Why does a deep breath calm you down?

Taking a deep breath sends a signal to your brain to calm down. Your brain then sends this message to your body, making it feel relaxed. This is why deep breathing works. And it’s super easy to do!

Signs and causes of stress

Tension in your shoulders and neck or clenching your hands into fists are two early warning signs of stress. It can be difficult to determine its root causes, but with a medical professional’s help, you can learn to figure out where your stress is coming from.

Other good ways to reduce stress

Read a good book: Picking up a novel might not be second nature, but it will help you relax and take your mind off stressful thoughts. Added bonus? Well-read men are sexier.

Listen to music: Grab a pair of headphones for the walk home after work.

Spend half a day without looking at your phone: Break a digital habit simply by “forgetting” your device at home or letting the battery run out.

Do something that makes you laugh: It lowers activity in the “stress” areas of the brain.

Exercise: Physical activity releases pent-up emotions and clears your head while stretching can reduce muscle and joint pain and boost flexibility. Less pain, big gains!

Do you have a trick for keeping stress at bay? Share it with your comrades in the comments below!

This article was originally published on July 3, 2019.

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