Today we’re going to take a moment to do a deep breathing exercise, for a minimum of one minute (but feel free to do it for longer, if you have the time and inclination.) But first we have to define our terms.

Chest breathing, also known as thoracic breathing, are those short, shallow breaths we tend to take when we’re anxious. Chest breathing is not good for us. It decreases oxygen flow to the body, which can lead to the kind of dizziness and increased heart rate we tend to associate with an anxiety attack. Also, you may not even realize you’re breathing incorrectly, which is all the more reason to practice deep breathing.

Abdominal breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing, is our goal today. These are the deep breaths which come from the diaphragm, meaning your belly should expand as you breathe in, and your chest should stay put.

You can do deep breathing anywhere: in bed, in a chair, at your desk at work, even out in the street. Ready?

  1. Inhale through your nose, slowly and with purpose, for a count of four seconds (or more). Only your belly should expand, not your chest.

  2. Exhale slowly through your mouth, also for a count of four seconds (or more). You can either keep your mouth open or purse your lips, whatever feels most comfortable.

  3. Repeat this for at least one minute.