You might be surprised to know that you don’t need to meditate to take advantage of it’s stress busting properties. One example is the simple act of taking a deep breath. Most of us do it automatically as a sigh, but if done with purpose, you can trigger a more relaxed state.
The main action of Mindfulness Meditation is to distract you from your normal thinking process. That’s why it’s so effective as a temporary stress reliever. A single, purposeful deep breath works the same way because it allows you to put your stress response on hold, any time you need a moment of relief.
Take a Deep Breath and Relax
To maximize the effects of a single breath, I suggest sitting down, and closing your eyes before you start. Then take a slow, deep breath, breathing in as deeply as you can, while counting silently to five. Hold your breath for another five count, then slowly exhale as you again count from one to five. Sit quietly for a few seconds, open your eyes, then continue on with your day.
Even if you can’t sit down somewhere or close your eyes, you can still benefit from taking a deep breath while counting and trying to relax any muscles that are tense.
The reason this breathing exercise works is because you have to switch your attention to the counting process and notice how your lungs feel with varying amounts of air. This brief pause in your current state of mind also blocks the mental function which feeds your body’s stress response. While it may seem like it’s only a brief distraction, any amount of time in relaxation mode will help you refocus.
Taking a deep breath while counting once every hour or two during the day will also help keep you relaxed.
The more you practice using a single deep breath to regain your focus, the easier relaxing will become.
Eventually you may even be able to stop the stress response before it begins to cause problems, and over time you may become a person who’s naturally more relaxed.
Remember, a deep breath with intent can offer some immediate stress relief, and even help avoid it in the first place. Stress relief doesn’t get more natural than this, but it can’t work if you don’t use it.