A quick and easy-to-learn strategy that can help you “master your craft” is Deep Abdominal Breathing. Deep Abdominal Breathing occurs when you use your diaphragm to inhale and exhale on each breath.
Unfortunately, a lot of people breathe with their chest. This is an unhealthy habit to have because it makes your breaths shallow which increases the amount of carbon dioxide in your body. This type of breathing is often associated with conditions such as, anxiety, stress, panic attacks, and asthma.
Therefore, it is essential to breathe in a way that maximizes the amount of oxygen that enters your bloodstream and allows your body to naturally relax. Deep Abdominal Breathing is a great technique that can help you achieve this! By using your diaphragm when you inhale and exhale, your lungs gain the ability to fully expand (pulled downwards), which enables you to take in more air. Interestingly, when you use this type of breathing pattern, your body also triggers a relaxation response.
Sit down in a comfortable position (straight spine). Close your eyes. For this exercise, breathe only through your nose. Inhale very slowly, and while doing this, push your abdomen out as far as possible (you can place one hand on your abdomen to help you feel the sensation). Once your abdomen reaches full extension, continue to breathe in and fill the upper part of your lungs (your shoulders should move upwards). When your lungs are full, hold your breath for 5 seconds. Then exhale through your nose slowly and at the same time draw in your abdomen. Wait 2 seconds before taking another breath. Repeat this process 5 times.
The following study demonstrates how Deep Abdominal Breathing can be used to effectively manage stressful events. In 2007, Nogawa and colleagues asked healthy participants to complete a math and cold pressor test (immersing the hand into ice cold water for 1 minute), under two different conditions. In the first condition, the participants used a Deep Abdominal Breathing exercise. In the second condition, the participants did not use any breathing technique. The results demonstrated that when the participants used the Deep Abdominal Breathing exercise, they were able to regulate their blood pressure more efficiently compared to when they did not use any breathing technique (e.g., being able to lower your blood pressure during a stressful event means that you can stay relaxed).
Set goals. Do just one thing at a time. Keep it simple and smart. Do it consistently. Reflect on the process.
Nogawa, M., Yamakoshi, T., Ikarashi, A., Tanaka, S., & Yamakoshi, K. (2007). Assessment of slow-breathing relaxation technique in acute stressful tasks using a multipurpose Non- invasive beat-by-beat cardiovascular monitoring system. IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Magazine: The Quarterly Magazine of the Engineering in Medicine & Biology Society, 1, 5323.