Deep breathing reverses fight or flight responses and sends messages to the brain to begin calming the body. Practice will make your body respond more efficiently to deep breathing in the future.
- Breathe in slowly. Count in your head and make sure the inward breath lasts at least 5 seconds. Pay attention to the feeling of the air filling your lungs.
- Hold your breath for 5 to 10 seconds (again, keep count). You don’t want to feel uncomfortable, but it should last quite a bit longer than an ordinary breath.
- Breathe out very slowly for 5 to 10 seconds (count!). Pretend like you’re breathing through a straw to slow yourseslf down. Try using a real straw to practice.
- Repeat the breathing process until you feel calm.
- Make sure you’re somewhere quiet without too much noise or distraction. You’ll need a few minutes to just spend quietly, in your mind.
- Think of a place that’s calming for you. Some examples are the beach, hiking on a mountain, relaxing at home with a friend, or playing with a pet.
- Paint a picture of the calming place in your mind using all of your senses to fill in the details. Using the example of the beach:
- Sight: What do you see above you, e.g. the sun, clouds, blue sky, birds (what kinds?), a butter fly? What do you see around you in the distance and close by? What do you see under you, maybe a baby crab walking by in the white sand?
- Sound: What do you hear? What does the water sound like? Can you hear birds, what do they sound like?
- Touch: What is the temperature? Can you feel the warm sun on your skin, maybe a gentle cool breeze to cool you dow just enough blowing in your hair and on your skin? What does the sand feel like under your feet?
- Taste: Maybe you are eating a tropical fruit or drinking a glass of something. What does it taste like?
- Smell: You can smell the fresh ocean air. Once in a while, the air brings a scent of tropical flowers .
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Find a private and quiet location. You should sit or lie down somewhere comfortable. The idea of this technique is to intentionally tense each muscle, and then to release then tension. Let practice with your feet.
- Tense the muscles in your toes by curling them into your foot. Notice how it feels when your foot is tense for 5 seconds.
- Release the tension from your toes. Let them relax. Notice how your toes feel differently after you release the tension.
- Tense the muscles all throughout your calf. Hold it for 5 seconds. Notice how the feeling of tension in your leg feels.
- Release the tension from you calf, and notice how the feeling of relaxation differs.
Follow this pattern of tensing and releasing tension all throughout your body. After you finish with your feet and legs, move up through your torso, arms, hands, neck, and head.