Have you ever paused for a moment and observed your breath? Chances are you haven’t noticed, and that you are probably not taking full advantage of one of the most powerful tools you have. Stress plays a significant role in how we breathe. In fact, the more stressed we are, the more shallow our breath becomes. We know that when we are grieving our minds and bodies are undoubtedly stressed. Our breathing is definitely on autopilot, if not everything else in our lives.
Studies have shown that “breath awareness” can have a significant impact on the parasympathetic nervous system, or simply, our body’s natural ability to relax. When we take the time for conscious breathing we allow for relaxation, calm and mental clarity. Try it for yourself…
Simple Belly Breathing Exercise
- Sit down comfortably
- Place one hand on your stomach, just below your ribcage. Place the second hand on the center of your chest.
- Breathe in deeply through your nostrils and let your first hand be pushed out by your stomach. Your chest should remain stationary.
- Breathe out through your lips, pursing them gently. Guide the hand on your stomach inwards, helping to press out the breath.
- Slowly repeat between 3 and 10 times.
Michelle Graff, LCSW
COPE Foundation Clinical Director