How to Really “Take a Deep Breath”

There’s nothing more infuriating than being stressed and having someone tell you to “take a deep breath.” Of course we know it would help, and yet we don’t do it.

Researchers suspect our reluctance to breathe deeply may be due to our tendency to hold in our stomachs, instead of letting our bellies expand naturally when we inhale.

Push past that reluctance, and you can successfully counteract your stress response: Deep “belly breathing” switches you out of fight-or-flight mode by lowering your blood pressure and heart rate.

The deep-breathing basics:

• Inhale through your nose, drawing air into your abdomen.

• Keep your chest still and let your lower belly fully expand.

• Exhale slowly through your mouth or nose.

• Repeat 3 to 10 times.

If you struggle to stop and breathe, think about relaxing your stomach muscles first, then take a big inhale.