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Don't Wait to Exhale

When your stomach is churning, your pulse is racing, and your mind has locked into a defensive mode, you can bet you've shifted into the stress response. One way to reduce a rapid heartbeat, increased blood pressure, sweaty palms, etc. is to slow your system down with focused steady breathing.

  • Sit in a chair with your spine straight and your feet on the floor. Close your eyes, if you wish. Inhale slowly to the count of six, bringing the air all the way down to your diaphragm. Hold your breath for the count of two, and then slowly release the breath to the count of six, letting the muscles in your neck and shoulders relax. Repeat eight to ten times, or until you feel your system settling down.
  • As you exhale slowly, vocalize "ahhh," if you wish...or "phew," "yes," or "okay."
Remember when your mother used to tell you to count to ten? Well, she was wisely coaching you on how to stay in the driver's seat and manage your emotions, instead of letting them manage you.
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A series of "quick-lifts" excerpted from Recharge in Minutes, ©2003, by Suzanne Zoglio, Ph.D.

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