Reduce Stress with a 5-Minute Breathing Exercise

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By News Team on July 16, 2021

“Just breathe.”

“Take some deep breaths.”

Often, it’s the first advice we hear when we’re feeling anxious, angry or stressed.

But could something as simple as that really help?

The answer is yes, says Tara Mitchell, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist with Carilion Children’s.

“To get the greatest benefit while breathing your way to better calm, try focusing on what is called mindfulness – which just means being aware of your feelings and sensations without trying to change or judge them,” she explains.   

According to Dr. Mitchell, mindful breathing can improve concentration, decrease anxiety and help us handle difficult emotions.

Here’s a mindful breathing exercise you can try for yourself:

Choose a quiet spot.  
It should be somewhere you can sit or lie down comfortably.

Get in a comfortable position.
Keep your back upright but not stiff. Rest your hands wherever they feel natural.

Notice and relax your body.
Relax any areas of tightness and tension as you breathe.

Focus on the natural flow of your breath.
You don’t need to try to do anything to your breath (for example, make it longer or slower). Just notice where you feel it in in your body: In your stomach? Your chest? Your throat or your nose? Feel the sensations of your breath, one breath at a time.

Stay here for 5 to 7 minutes. 
Allow yourself to relax even more. Finally, give yourself some thanks for taking the time to practice.

Important reminder:
What if you start thinking about other things while doing your mindful breathing?

You probably will!

When you notice your mind wandering, just say ‘thinking’ or ‘wandering’ to yourself, then gently redirect your attention back to your breath.

Now make it a habit!
Try to practice a few times a week—ideally, do at least some of your practicing when you’re not already stressed.  And check out the Events Calendar at Morningside Urban Farm, where our Community Health and Outreach team teaches mindfulness practices at events like their Morning Meditation and Coffee workshops.

Can't seem to find five minutes to yourself some days? See how to incorporate some quick mindfulness practices throughout your busy schedule.

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