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.
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. 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.
Here’s how to fit 5 deep breaths into one minute:
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.
Five more easy ways to silence 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 date night at the movies 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!
Adam Bisby is a Toronto-based freelance journalist and father of two. His award-winning stories have appeared in The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star and National Post newspapers, in magazines like Explore, Reader’s Digest, International Traveller and Canadian Family, and on websites including MSN, MSN Canada, and DontChangeMuch.ca. Visit Adam’s website for more details on his award winning work.