A peaceful pause

If life feels frantic and it's all getting on top of you, step back and try this calming breathing exercise.

If it’s possible, find somewhere comfortable to sit, preferably a quiet place to help you make the most of a few minutes’ time out.

Try to relax your body. Move your shoulders away from your ears and let your arms drop to your sides. Scrunch up your face, and then let all the muscles fall, from your forehead to your temples and your jaw.

Put one hand on your belly. Focus on your breathing and think about taking slow, careful breaths, maybe just a tiny bit deeper than your regular breathing.

Now, put those thoughts into action. Inhale deeply and as you do so be aware of your belly expanding under your hand. Let it be moved by your breath and try not to tense up the muscles – this isn’t a workout for your core. It can help to breathe in through your nose, and out through your mouth.

Exhale slowly, still with your hand on your stomach. Feel the gentle movement of your belly as you release your breath. Again, try not to work the muscles.

Count to three or four as you inhale and then again as you exhale. Don’t hold on for any longer than is completely comfortable.

If it feels okay, repeat the process four or five times, and notice how the tension leaves your muscles and your shoulders ease. If it feels awkward, don’t worry. Everyone’s different. Just take time to sit quietly.

If you practise this every day, for a few moments in a safe space, this exercise can become a useful way to release tension, worries and stress.

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