Ready to Relax?
Below are some basic self-care and breathing techniques you can try to start relaxing and managing your stress. Additional web resources are listed at the bottom of the page.
Suggestions for Managing Stress
Abdominal breathing is also known as diaphragmatic breathing or the three-part breath. It is an excellent tool to stimulate the relaxation response that results in less tension and an overall sense of well being. It’s a wonderful tool to use while you’re driving, in class before giving a presentation, or before going to bed.
- Sit or lie down
- Place one hand on your abdomen/bell
- Let your belly be relaxed
- Inhale for 3 seconds, feeling your hand rise. Breathe first into the belly, then the ribs, and finally the chest
- Exhale for 3-6 seconds, feeling first your chest, then ribs, and finally the belly fall
- Allow the breath to come in and out of the body watching the belly as it rises and falls
- After 5 minutes of controlled breathing, let go of any control of the breath, breathing naturally
Heart Centered Breathing
- Heart Focus: You can start with any part of your body. Focus your attention on your left big toe and wiggle it. Do this with other parts of your body. Now, gently focus on the area in the center of your chest, the area of your heart.
- Heart Breathing: As you are focusing on the area of your heart, pretend that you are breathing through your heart. Pretend that your breath is flowing in and out through that area. Breathe slowly and gently- in through your heart to a count of 4-5 and slowly and easily out through your heart to a count of 4-5. Do this until your breathing feels smooth and balanced, not forced.
- Heart Feeling: Continue to breathe through the area of your heart and find a positive feeling, like appreciation, care or compassion. This could be an appreciation or care you have toward a special person, pet, or place you enjoy. Once you’ve found a positive feeling or attitude, you can sustain it by continuing your heart focus, heart breathing, and heart feeling.
Additional Web Resources
Healthy Lifestyle—“Reset your stress thermostat” with exercises in guided imagery, meditation, deep breathing, and writing (site maintained by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Healthy Lifestyle Program).
Meditations—Learn how to meditate.
Relaxation Exercises—Download audio files of relaxation exercises that you can play on your computer (site maintained by Georgia Southern University).
Sleep—Learn how to solve sleep problems with these relaxation exercises (site maintained by the University of Maryland Medical Center Sleep Disorders Center).
- New Mexico State University Counseling Center
- Hours: Monday—Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Garcia Annex, Room 100
- MSC 3575/ P.O. Box 30001, Las Cruces, NM 88003-8001