Stressed out? It happens. Maybe there’s trouble at work, family issues, or health problems. Or you’re worried about money, a relationship, or a whole bunch of things at once. How you handle it can make all the difference.

Some stress is actually helpful. It’s a normal part of life. But if you’re constantly feeling anxious, sad or worried, or you can’t sleep at night, it’s going to take a toll.

If you don’t manage stress in healthy ways, it can lead to things like:

  • Heart disease
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Headaches
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Stomach problems
  • Memory loss


The good news…there’s a simple solution to reduce stress that works in minutes. It’s free. And it doesn’t require any special skills or training. The next time you’re feeling stressed out…

Breathe.

In a recent study, researchers found that breathing slowly and clearing your mind can reduce stress hormones and lower blood pressure in minutes.1

“Breathing is the single most important act that we do every day,” says Stanford University researcher Dr. Emma Seppälä, author of the book, The Happiness Track. “Daily breathing practices activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is associated with resting and digesting, and a more peaceful mind and body.”

So how do you use breathing to tell your brain to chill out? Slow down.2

  • Normal breathing = 12 to 14 breaths per minute
  • Breathing to relax = 5 to 7 breaths per minute

7 simple steps to breathe easy

Looking for an easy way to beat stress, improve your mood, and feel better? Breathe. The more you practice, the easier it gets. Follow these 7 simple steps:

1. Create a breathing practice. Set aside 10 to 15 minutes each day to breathe. Schedule it just like you would an important meeting.

2. Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. Close your office or bedroom door. Go to your car. Sit on a bench in a quiet area of a park.

3. Set a timer. Start with 10 minutes. As you get comfortable with breathing, increase the time to 15 or 20 minutes.

4. Sit comfortably, and place one hand on your stomach.

5. Breathe in through your nose. Inhale deeply and slowly. Pay attention to your chest rising as your lungs fill with air. Focus on your breathing, and try not to think about anything else.

6. Exhale through your mouth. Tighten your stomach muscles, and try to push out as much air as possible.

7. Repeat the process until time’s up.

When you’re stressed out and you’ve got a million things to do at home or at work, it’s easy to think you don’t have time for mindful breathing. But before you rush off to the next thing on your to-do list, give it a try.

If you’re feeling stressed, but you’re not in a place where you can take a 10-minute breather, stop and take five deep breaths. It’s often enough to let your brain know, it’s OK to relax.

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