Sometimes we just need a little help getting through the tough stuff.

Breathing and mindfulness exercises can help you take a momentary break and recharge. Just like everything else, if you want to see greater benefit, you need to practice regularly.

Daily practice will allow the exercise to feel more natural and avoid unnecessary frustration by attempting a brand-new exercise in the middle of a stressful event. Additionally, daily practice will help maintain overall emotional well-being, which will also help you to work through stressful events quicker with less intensity and duration.

A key part of adding a new daily practice is being planful about adding it to your routine rather than just saying, I’ll do that when I think of it.

Consider what part of your day will be a natural fit for this practice. Early in the morning before your household and the activities of the day begins, midday when you usually crave a breather and refresher or possibly as part of your bedtime routine? If you add it to your bedtime routine, it could have the added benefit of aiding your mind and body to relax and fall asleep much easier.

Another key to adding a new daily practice is to connect it to an existing daily practice. An example if your bedtime routine consistently includes reading before bed, you may want to tie your new relaxation exercise to closing your book and then immediately going into your exercise every single time.

Belly Breathing is a simple exercise to add to your existing routine. The point is to slow and calm your breathing so you can slow and calm the other systems in your body. Your body simply cannot be relaxed and on high alert at the same time.

In order for the breathing exercise to meet this goal, it needs to be slow and deep. Find a comfortable position, either being seated or lying down. Close your eyes to avoid visual stimuli that might distract you.

Put one hand on your stomach and one on your chest. Imagine there is a balloon in your stomach that you are going to fill with air. Take a deep breath in through your nose and make sure you feel the air flowing all the way into your stomach. Breathe out through your mouth. Breathe in for four counts, hold your breath for four counts, breathe out for four counts and pause for four counts. Repeat this cycle as many times as you would like. It might feel uncomfortable at first but stick with it. As you become more comfortable with the practice you will notice a sense of peace and calm when you are done. Set aside a specific amount of time for your practice. A timer could be set to help manage the amount of time you practice.

Mindfulness practice is all the rage these days and there is a great reason for that. We are so over connected, over stimulated and over scheduled that we are constantly multitasking or trying to plan for the next five projects while we are busy doing our current project. Mindfulness is a great way to get out of your thoughts, worries and incessant planning for the future and ground you to the here and now.

It will allow you to reconnect with your surroundings and help you savor what is most important in your life.

Anything can be done mindfully but there are a couple ways to start practicing mindfulness.

One way is to savor a hard candy mindfully. Close your eyes and make a blind selection. Take your time with this. Touch and smell. What do you notice? Put it in your mouth and pay attention to the way it feels in your mouth, on your tongue, against your teeth. Pay attention to the flavor, your expectations, your thoughts or judgments.

If you get distracted during this exercise, simply notice the thought and bring yourself back to the exercise. Once you have mastered this one, you can move onto anything else you want to enjoy in the moment.

Dr. Siquilla Liebetrau is the clinical director for the Bowen Center.

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