What if there was one simple action you could take that had the ability to shift your feeling state almost instantly? What if you could have an anxiety-lessening tool that is at your disposal any moment of the day, no matter what you were doing? What if you could feel better, right this minute?

Lucky for you and I, our bodies come equipped with this powerful tool. Breathing is the only thing your body does that is both unconscious (you don’t have to tell yourself to breathe) and conscious (but you can change your breathing rate and rhythm). Because it is a window into your nervous system, it has the ability to change your anxiety level, send you helpful (or harmful) hormones and help you access inner wisdom.


Photo by AlicePopkorn, shared via flickr

“The solution to stress lies within us. Nature has given us a defense mechanism with which to combat the physical effects of stress: parasympathetic nervous system activity catalyzed by diaphragmatic breathing. While breathing alone may not resolve the issue stressing us, it can empower us to healthfully adapt on mental, emotional, physical, and even spiritual levels.” Heart MD Institute

Here is a simple exercise to try the next time you want to shift out of stress-mode:

  1. Find a relaxed position to sit or stand. This only takes a few moments and you can do it virtually anywhere.
  2. Place one hand on your low belly. Take a deep inhale, letting your belly under your hand expand to the count of 5.
  3. Hold your breath to the count of 5.
  4. Exhale fully to the count of 7, feeling your belly move back toward your spine.
  5. Repeat a few times until you feel more relaxed. Keep your mind focused on the breath and the counting.

This may seem too easy to cause a profound change, but I promise if you use it regularly, it will create an instant relaxation response as well as other health benefits like lowering blood pressure, helping to regulate hormones, reducing insomnia, carrying more oxygen to your muscles which decreases pain and tension and calming your mind!