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Diaphragmatic Breathing Exercise

Diaphragmatic breathing, also known as abdominal breathing or belly breathing. This is breathing that is done by contracting the diaphragm, which is a muscle located horizontally between the chest cavity and stomach cavity. Air enters the lungs and the belly expands during this type of breathing.

It is important to practice this daily for 5 minutes. The more you practice, the easier it will become to breathe this way naturally. Breathing this way can help you relax, which can help you to de-stress and help relieve anxiety symptoms. After 5 minutes, notice how relaxed you feel! If you don't feel that relaxed, feel free to do this exercise for more time, or proceed to the next exercise.

 

Progressive Muscle Relaxation Exercise

Resource: Leahy, Robert L., and Holland, Stephen J. "Behavioral Techniques." Treatment Plans and Interventions for Depression and Anxiety Disorders. New York: Guilford, 2000. 332 pages. Paperback.

When doing this exercise, it is important to not tense your muscles too tightly, or you could possibly injure yourself. Therefore, imagine a scale of 1-10, one being the most relaxed you could be, and 10 being the hardest you could tense your muscles. You want to only tense to about a level 5.

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Diaphragmatic Breathing Exercise

Diaphragmatic breathing, also known as abdominal breathing or belly breathing. This is breathing that is done by contracting the diaphragm, which is a muscle located horizontally between the chest cavity and stomach cavity. Air enters the lungs and the belly expands during this type of breathing.

It is important to practice this daily for 5 minutes. The more you practice, the easier it will become to breathe this way naturally. Breathing this way can help you relax, which can help you to de-stress and help relieve anxiety symptoms. After 5 minutes, notice how relaxed you feel! If you don't feel that relaxed, feel free to do this exercise for more time, or proceed to the next exercise.

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When I am not working, I volunteer with the Emergency Services Department-Crisis Intervention Team at Burning Man each year. I also volunteer with DanceSafe, which provides harm reduction information and materials to ravers and festival-goers in the electronic music community. I love giving back to the communities I am a part of, especially when I know it can help save lives!

Progressive Muscle Relaxation Exercise

When doing this exercise, it is important to not tense your muscles too tightly, or you could possibly injure yourself. Therefore, imagine a scale of 1-10, one being the most relaxed you could be, and 10 being the hardest you could tense your muscles. You want to only tense to about a level 5.

List of Steps

  1. Take 10 diaphragmatic breaths. (refer to the diaphragmatic breathing exercise if you are not sure how to do this.)
  2. While still taking diaphragmatic breaths, make your hands into a fist and pull them up towards the ceiling. Hold them there until you fully inhale, exhale, and inhale again. As you exhale, relax those muscles.
  3. Take two more diaphragmatic breaths.
  4. While still breathing, push your arms into your sides. Hold them there until you fully inhale, exhale, and inhale again. As you exhale, relax those muscles.
  5. Take two more diaphragmatic breaths.
  6. While still breathing, flex your legs, pointing your toes up to the ceiling. Hold them there until you fully inhale, exhale, and inhale again. As you exhale, relax those muscles.
  7. Take two more diaphragmatic breaths.
  8. While still breathing, push your thighs together. Hold them there until you fully inhale, exhale, and inhale again. As you exhale, relax those muscles.
  9. Take two more diaphragmatic breaths.
  10. While still breathing, push your stomach towards your spine. Hold them there until you fully inhale, exhale, and inhale again. As you exhale, relax those muscles.
  11. Take two more diaphragmatic breaths.
  12. Take a deep breath into your chest and hold it for 10 seconds. After 10 seconds, slowly exhale to relax the chest muscles.
  13. Take two more diaphragmatic breaths.
  14. While still breathing, push your shoulders up towards the ceiling. Hold them there until you fully inhale, exhale, and inhale again. As you exhale, relax those muscles.
  15. Take two more diaphragmatic breaths.
  16. While still breathing, push your head back, looking up towards the ceiling. Hold them there until you fully inhale, exhale, and inhale again. As you exhale, relax those muscles.
  17. Take two more diaphragmatic breaths.
  18. While still breathing, purse your lips together, without clenching your jaw. Hold them there until you fully inhale, exhale, and inhale again. As you exhale, relax those muscles.
  19. Take two more diaphragmatic breaths.
  20. While still breathing, squint your eyes shut. Hold them there until you fully inhale, exhale, and inhale again. As you exhale, relax those muscles.
  21. Take two more diaphragmatic breaths.
  22. While still breathing, furrow your eyebrows towards your eyes. Hold them there until you fully inhale, exhale, and inhale again. As you exhale, relax those muscles.
  23. Take two more diaphragmatic breaths.
  24. While still breathing, raise your eyebrows up to the ceiling. Hold them there until you fully inhale, exhale, and inhale again. As you exhale, relax those muscles.
  25. Take 10 more diaphragmatic breaths. When done, open your eyes and notice how relaxed you feel!

Practice once daily. Try to find a time that you can make part of your routine. My clients usually make it part of their nighttime routine, as a way to help them sleep easier.

RESOURCE CREDIT Leahy, Robert L., and Holland, Stephen J. "Behavioral Techniques." Treatment Plans and Interventions for Depression and Anxiety Disorders. New York: Guilford, 2000. 332 pages. Paperback.

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