Holiday Self-Care Tip: A 50-Second Trick to Lessen Stress

Wednesday December 14, 2016

(Apologies for no post yesterday. I spent the large part of the day without internet, including a few hours of trying to fix the broken internet. Of course, in the evening, I figured out it wasn’t the internet at all but an issue with the &!#^*@# plug. Head-desk. It’s been that kind of week, frankly.)


This holiday season is shaping up to be a bit more anxiety-prone for me. There’s the usual hustle of course — buying gifts, baking, decorating, school and work parties, trying to make the magic happen around here — but this year feels even more stressful. Turning on the news is an exercise in trying to Keep It Together in the face of horrific tragedy in Syria, to say nothing of the closer, domestic political situation which is a constant drip of The Hell Now?

A couple months ago, someone told me about the 4-4-8 breathing exercise. It doesn’t work for everyone, but it has been incredibly helpful to me. It also helps when I’m up in the middle of the night with mind racing and can’t get back to sleep.

First, stop what you’re doing. Then, breathe in for four seconds, hold your breath for four seconds, then breathe out for eight seconds. Repeat 3 times.

That’s it! And you will feel instantly calmed, focused, and present.

Deep breathing like this actually affects the pH levels in your brain. By forcing yourself to breathe deeply and calmly, you are actually triggering a calming chemical reaction in your brain. That is pretty cool.

So. Next time you are stuck in traffic, or pacing a manic toy store, or 10th in line at the grocery check out, or catching another insane headline in the news, stop. Take some breaths, and see if you feel better.

Health, You

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