Are you breathing in a way that promotes relaxation? How do you know? Take this breath test.
Place one hand on your chest and one hand on your belly. Take a breath. Notice if your hand on your chest or belly moved with your breath.
Did your hand on the chest move? If so that is a shallow breath. If the hand on the belly moved that is a deep belly breath which promotes relaxation. When we exhale with awareness we are activating the parasympathetic nervous system which is responsible for rest and relaxation. A long mindful exhale is the trick to activating the relaxation response.
Often when we are stressed and not aware of our breath we take short, shallow breaths which activates tension.
Here is how to do it:
Inhale through your nose, fill up your lungs, send the breath down to the belly and feel with your hand the belly expanding like a balloon. Take a slow exhale out and feel with your hand the belly deflating like a balloon. That is a deep belly breath.
Extra relaxation: Inhale for the count of 4, pause, with pursed lips like you are blowing a bubble exhale for the count of 8.
Feel the relaxation you have created for yourself? Watch this video here for help.