There are hundreds of coping skills that one can use when stressed or overwhelmed. However, many situations make doing a skill difficult. For example, one cannot color in a work meeting, go for a mindful walk while riding in the car, or take a bubble bath at a family reunion.
However, deep breathing can be done at any time. This skill, more than any other, is easy to adapt to every situation. Not only does it require little time or preparation, it also has the potential to make you feel much calmer and at ease.
Breathing is a unique thing. Each person needs it to stay alive but we often take it for granted. Yet, if you think about breathing before responding in stress or anger, you might be surprised about how you can handle the situation in a more rational way. Thus, this simple skill can help you to respond in a manner that reflects how you truly feel and your morals. That does not mean you will never be angry. Instead, you will be able to express your anger in a constructive way instead of hurting yourself or others. In a similar way, you are able to step back from a moment and choose how to handle your anxiety or other emotion. By doing this, you will have more control over your actions and more peace in your life.
To breathe deeply, count in to 10 (or another number of your choosing). Then breathe out a few counts longer. Do this as often as needed. Finding the right space to breath deeply is important as well. This ideal setting will differ from person to person. Some might need fresh air from outside while others prefer a dark, quiet corner. However, it is also good to practice this skill in less comfortable areas so that you are prepared to use it in any situation.
One other aspect of this coping skill to consider is what you think about while breathing. I like to either concentrate on the numbers I am counting or just focusing on the air coming in and out. However, you can also think of imagery or a safe place. Others prefer to think of different parts of their body releasing stress. Whatever you choosing, be sure that it makes you feel calmer not more overwhelmed.
Breathing deeply sounds simple but it takes practice. There are many times when I forget to use this skill. However the more that I experiment with it, the more I find that it is extremely helpful and relaxing.
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