Diaphragmatic breathing, or “belly breathing” is an important relaxation technique. It helps to increase physical and psychological feelings of relaxation. Belly breathing consists of the lungs filling fully, the belly rising, and your body receiving a full share of oxygenated air from a deep breath. Diaphragmatic breathing can be incredibly beneficial both emotionally and physiologically. For example, one study showed a decrease in cortisol amongst individuals who engaged in diaphragmatic breathing. This was even more enhanced after after training. Other benefits of diaphragmatic breathing include decreased tension and anxiety and lowered stress. Better managed blood pressure has also been noted.
Belly breathing is best done in a quiet, comfortable locating. This is so that you can be present and focus on the technique. Here are some prompts so that you can best practice diaphragmatic breathing:
- Sit in a comfortable and relaxed position. You can sit in a chair with your feet firmly planted or lay down on a couch. Make sure there are no loud noises so you aren’t distracted.
- Place one hand on your chest and one on your belly.
- Breath in slowly through your nose, feeling your belly rise (shoot for 5-8 seconds).
- Hold your breath for a short period of time (shoot for 3-5 seconds).
- Breathe out more slowly then you breathed in, feeling your belly fall back to a relaxed position (shoot for 8-12 seconds).
- Continue breathing in and out and be mindful of each breath.
Diaphragmatic breathing is an excellent tool for times of stress and anxiety. The more you practice belly breathing the more efficient you may become. This will allow you to belly breathe in public or on the go and provide you a quick moment to relax.
The simple act of taking deep breaths is powerful because it allows you to increase oxygen intake. Diaphragmatic breathing also allows you to slow your thoughts and have a mental reset. And don’t forget that this may be an incredibly helpful practice for adults and kids. Want a little assistance for your kiddos? Check out the belly breathing video for kids on YouTube, featuring Elmo, Common and Colbie Caillat. It’s never too early to give your kids the skills they need to cope better, and it may prompt you to practice more too!