A woman stands with her eyes closed and pauses to take a deep breath in front of green plants with purple flowersAt some point, someone has probably told you to “take a deep breath.” Usually, we get this advice when we’re stressed out about something. And it’s good advice because it works!

There are a lot of different ways to manage stress and anxiety. However, the most simple stress management method that you can do anywhere is breathing. Here are just a few reasons to stop and breathe:

1. Decrease blood pressure and muscle tension.

When you’re experiencing stress, your blood pressure rises, which leads to tension in your muscles. Taking several slow, deep breaths will lower your blood pressure and relax your muscles. At the same time, your body senses a decrease in muscle tension and puts the brakes on the stress response.

2. Regain a sense of control.

When under stress, your breathing becomes short and shallow. This change in your breathing usually happens without you even realizing the difference. But by intentionally taking a few deep breaths, you get back in control of your breathing and how you’re responding to your environment. Focusing on breathing clears your mind and shifts your attention to a single point of focus that you’re in control of.

3. Improve your posture.

When you’re sitting hunched over with poor posture, it’s hard to take a deep breath. But by taking a few moments to focus on your breathing, you’ll promote better posture. The more often you take short breaks during your day to focus on your breathing, the more you’ll improve your posture and take some pressure off your spine.

Try it out!

The next time you start to feel stress or anxiety, take a few moments to focus on your breath. Give this a try:

  • Breathe in through your nose. Fill your belly and then your chest.
  • Hold for just a few seconds.
  • Slowly release your breath through your mouth.
  • Repeat this three to five times or continue for three to five minutes.

If you are looking to start back up with your health and fitness goals, the YMCA of Greater Whittier is here for you! Contact us to learn more about the programs we’re offering that will get you back on track.