A Freelance Writer’s Quick Stress Reliever – Diaphragm Breathing

When I was in high school I was very involved with music. I sang in a church choir, school choir, appeared in musicals, and took voice lessons. At my first lesson my teacher taught me how to breathe from my diaphragm, a skill that supports the voice and improves performance. She asked me to place the palm of my hand on my diaphragm, take a deep breath, and watch my hand move forward as I did so.
Though it took a few tries, I finally did it right. “You can also use diaphragm breathing to relax,” she explained.
I didn’t know it at the time, but this technique is one of the most valuable I have learned. Before I give a talk, I spend five minutes on diaphragm breathing. If I am anxious about an interview, I give myself a few minutes to practice the technique. Because I have white coat hypertension (anxiety about having my blood pressure taken), I do diaphragm breathing while the blood pressure cuff is on my arm.
This technique also helps to reduce any writing stress I may have. Abdominal or deep breathing, as it is also called, doesn’t require pricey equipment or extensive training. You can learn it in minutes and do it anytime and anywhere. What are the some of the advantages of this breathing?
According to “Breathing to Reduce Stress,” an article on the Better Health Channel website, it helps you manage anxiety, asthma, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, high blood pressure, sleep problems, and panic attacks. “When a person is under stress their breathing changes,” the article notes. Shallow breathing and hyperventilation can prolong anxiety by tightening the chest, causing light-headedness, headaches, palpitations, muscular aches, tingling hands and a cold face.
But when you relax with abdominal breathing, your heart rate slows, your lung capacity increases, the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the blood are more balanced, and you feel calmer. Here are four easy steps to follow. They come from “How to Do Diaphragmatic Breathing,” an article on the Stress Management website.
Step 1: Get comfortable. Stand or sit with your back straight and feet flat on the floor. Place one hand on your abdomen.
Step 2: Inhale slowly through your nose and count to four.
Step 3: Exhale through your mouth, as you slowly count to six.
Step 4: Repeat the technique.
“Put more emphasis on breathing rhythmically rather than deeply,” the article advises. Not only is this a good tip, it is a tip that works.
According to “Diaphragmatic Breathing,” an article on the Cleveland Clinic’s website, it is easier to follow these steps while lying down. Once you understand them, you can practice the technique in a chair. At first, the technique is tiring, but the more you practice it, the easier it becomes.
Have you been searching for a catchy book title for days? Are you stuck on a paragraph? Did you receive another rejection letter? Is writing the book proposal as hard as writing the book? Have book sales sagged in this sagging economy? Try diaphragm breathing. You will feel calmer and ready to take on your writing challenges.

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