Deep Breathing

Deep breathing is probably the most common and the most beneficial of all relaxation techniques. It can be done anywhere, at any time, and can be combined with other types of stress management.

The simplest exercise for deep breathing is known by many names. Some of these are: abdominal breathing, diaphragmatic breathing, balloon breath, and complete breath.

You can be sitting, standing or lying on your back for deep breathing. Imagine your lungs are divided into thirds, with the bottom third going as low as the abdomen.

Your hands are laid on the diaphragm with the middle fingers touching. The little fingers will be at the waist.

As you inhale slowly, fill the abdomen (lower third of the lungs) first, feeling it expand. Let the hands rise and separate. Imagine your lungs are filling as a balloon.

Next, fill the middle section of the lungs, and finally fill the top third with the healthful, energy-giving oxygen.

Exhale slowly and smoothly, starting with the chest or top third, then the middle section, and finally the abdomen as you finish the exhalation.

Gently press down with the hands to help get all the carbon dioxide from the lungs.

These sections of your lungs will each be contracting as the carbon dioxide slowly leaves the body - just like a balloon would get smaller as it loses the air it has been holding.

Exhaling should be done slowly and through the nostrils. You may find that you have a tendency to contract the abdomen as you inhale, rather than expanding it; if so, you will need to concentrate on doing it correctly.

Becoming Accomplished
At first, use the same amount of time for both inhalation and exhalation, i.e., four counts as you inhale, four counts as you exhale.

As you get more accomplished, try to take longer with the exhalation than with the inhalation. The counting for this could be: four counts while inhaling, hold the breath for four counts, then exhale to a count of eight.

Another way to accomplish this is to inhale fully, then exhale slowly as you direct your breath to a burning candle. You can also simply imagine you're blowing out a candle.

An Anytime Routine
One inhalation and one exhalation make up one round of the breathing exercise. Strive for at least three rounds twice daily.

This can be done any time you have a few minutes - when you're waiting for someone or waiting in line somewhere, taking a break, before or after meals, before going to sleep, and many more times when you can find the time.

The deep breathing exercise can be done without the hands on the diaphragm.

Make sure to exhale slowly. Rapid, consecutive inhalation and exhalation can cause hyperventilation, which can trigger a seizure.

My book contains much more information about deep-breathing and other stress management approaches that can help to keep seizures at bay.