If you had $1,440 in your wallet, would you spend just one of those dollars to instantly feel healthier and happier? Of course, you would!

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 just happens to contain 1,440 minutes — and take 5 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, reduce the risk of heart attack…the list of benefits goes on and on.

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

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Step 1: Stop what you’re doing.

If possible, 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 do your best to 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 5 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.

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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 identify things in your life that make stress flare-up and learn to become aware of how your body reacts when this happens. The next step is finding a way to deal with stress, and that’s where deep breathing comes in. On that note…

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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 of 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: From movie night to watching this hilarious Don’t Change Much video, laughing 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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