Military life can be breathtaking in more ways than one. When the circumstances of a move, or deployment, or even a day at work take an unexpected turn, the result is often anxiety and stress. In times like these, it’s easy to focus on the big important things and forget the small important things. Like breathing.
Life coach and author Judy Hissong often asks her clients, “Are you breathing?”
It’s a serious question, because focused breathing is an effective method of stress reduction.
“Of course we are always breathing,” Judy says, “but stress and a busy schedule may be keeping us from breathing correctly.”
Newborn babies breathe very deeply, using all their diaphragm power and lung volume. Their pulse is rapid, and their abdomens rise and fall quickly, as their growing bodies gather needed oxygen. Judy explains that adults tend to lose this breathing technique, but it can be cultivated.
“Why not stop and take some deep healing breaths for no reason at all?” Judy says.
Judy offers these tips for deep, focused breathing:
- Sit with one hand on your abdomen and the other on your chest.
- Be sure your back and neck are straight; shoulders are down and relaxed.
- Inhale slowly through your nose, using your diaphragm to fill your lungs. If you are breathing correctly, the hand on your abdomen should move outward as your abdomen expands, but the hand on your chest should not move.
- Then begin a slow exhale of the same duration.
- Repeat this process for at least three breaths.
- On your third exhalation, blow the air out through your mouth, and emphasize emptying your lungs.
- Now, you know the number one stress-reliever in the world. Please, practice often, and share this gift with others.
Judy Hissong is a professional life coach and the daughter of a soldier. Her poem “Best Friends,” appears in Military Life: Stories and Poems for Children.