Breath Control for Urgent Stress Relief

It has been said that breath is life. When our life feels out of control, our breathing can feel the same and that is just not a comfortable feeling, to say the least. We can learn to control our breath and bring a better sense that things are going to be okay.

Breath Control for Urgent Parenting Stress

I’d like to share a personal story that really brought home to me the power of breath control to combat the feeling of being over-stressed. I was at the dojo, with my kiddos. It must have been after karate because classes were not going on. I don’t remember what we were discussing; this took place many years ago. But one child was arguing with me and would not listen to my reason.

My tension rose. We argued. I tried not to raise my voice. There were other people around. My stress became unbearable due to my obstinate child. This was the type of situation where a parent might spank their kid. I knew I had to remove myself from this situation, so I did. I went into the dressing room.

it's easier to control your breath when you've removed yourself from a stressful situation

What now? My breath was shallow, my heart pounded, my face was red in anger. I remembered a breath control technique that I had recently learned. I sat down, closed my eyes and used the technique. In an amazingly short period of time, I felt I could breathe again. I got control of my breath and my emotions. I felt a balance that would let me deal more gracefully with my current parenting trouble.

I didn’t come up with this breath control technique on my own. But I have used it many times since then, and it has helped me in many situations. Including simply relaxing before meditation or prayer (read more on the differences and similarities for all of these here). Now I’d like to share this technique with you.

How to Use the Breath Control Technique

It helps to be sitting or lying down with your eyes closed, but this is not vital to this breath control technique. (If you are standing, I recommend keeping your eyes open.) You do need to become in tune with your heartbeat or your pulse. Some people have trouble with this. If you cannot feel your heart beating in your chest, neck or head simply by holding still, then you can put your fingers gently on your wrist or jugular vein to find the pulse.

A breath control technique that focuses on the heartbeat

Count one and inhale to five or six heart beats, then exhale to the same number of beats. Count two, inhaling to five or six heart beats and exhaling to the same number of beats. Continue until you get to 10, so that you have made a total of 10 breathing cycles. That’s it! By this time you should be feeling much more relaxed and at ease. If you have time, you may want to repeat the whole thing with 10 more breaths. It should only take a few minutes.

Here is a super short Youtube video from an athlete on another breath control technique. As he says, it is to help you build a base of helpful coping skills. One technique may not work all the time, so it’s good to have several. Become familiar with them when you are not in dire straits so that you can use them when your stress level rises. Here’s to your ability to control your breathing and find relaxation.

-Jenifer Tull-Gauger

Use breath control in order to relax.

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