What is an extremely effective way to reduce stress that is easy, portable and free — and with you your entire life? Breathing! The next time you feel your stress level rising, take a time out and breathe. You can do it anywhere, anytime— at work, while waiting in line at the grocery store, at the doctor’s office, or before bed.

When we are stressed, our breathing tends to be shallow and quick, using only the top half of our lungs. This shallow breathing sends a message to our body that we are in fight-or-flight mode and we begin to pump out stress hormones. These stress hormones can suppress the cells of our immune system, leaving us more susceptible to illness.

The breathing style that produces the greatest relaxation response is that which allows the stomach to expand rather than the upper chest. This is actually how we breathe when we are comfortably asleep and how we breathed when we were babies. It is known as diaphragmatic or belly breathing. This simple act of deep breathing can calm the nervous system, lower the heart rate, reduce blood pressure, and improve the digestive process— all of which promote our health and well-being.

How exactly does is work? It’s quite simple: breathe in deeply through your nose and allow your stomach to expand rather than the upper chest. Exhale out through your mouth, pushing out as much air as you can while contracting your abdominal muscles. Repeat until you feel more relaxed.

Belly breathing is easy and always available to you as a natural de-stressor. Start making use of it today for some unbelievable health benefits.

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