Learning the simple act of breathing correctly is one of the most important steps to combat stress, anxiety, and insomnia. How well you are breathing has a strong influence on your physiology, thought processes, and mood.
And in today’s fast-paced, highly stressed society, many of us have lost this ability to simply breathe in and out well enough to shut down stress and get a good night’s sleep.
Focusing your attention on taking these slow, deep breaths helps quiet the mind and helps reduce both your heart rate and blood pressure.
Breathing correctly is also one of the best tools for beginning the process of relaxing tense muscles and shutting your mind down for the evening, not to mention that breathing is free.
Always do these sleep exercises at bedtime, after you are already in bed. If you do these exercises anywhere other than actually in bed and then have to get up in order to get in bed, you will negate anything that these breathing exercises may have accomplished.
So first go lie down in bed…as we always tell the kids at camp, “in the sack, flat on your back.”
Place one hand on your belly and the other on your chest.
Use the diaphragm, abdominals and lungs to take in the deepest breath that you can. Hold that breath for a moment. Then gradually let that breath go.
Focus your attention on the full breath, from start to finish. If your mind is wandering, just notice that it has wandered and gently eedirect it back to your breath.
Focus on where you feel each breath move within the body. As you inhale, you should feel your rib cage expand and your lungs fill completely. As you exhale, you should feel these both falling back into their natural position.
Concentrate on this rise and fall that take place as you breathe, refusing to let any negative or stressful thoughts and emotions interfere or seem more important at the time than the simple act of breathing.
This alone can do wonders for helping you relax at night, even if you do nothing else such as special breathing exercises designed to also calm the central nervous system and quiet the mind.