Sunday, December 7, 2014

How to Breathe

Those of you attending a school on the trimester system know it's already time for finals. As for the rest of you, finals will soon be upon you. Taking so many giant tests and/or writing so many colossal essays in such a short period of time can be overwhelming to say the least. As someone who feels like they're taking a life-changing test at least once a day, I feel qualified to give some tips for calming down.

  1. Before anything else, close your eyes. It's so easy to be overwhelmed by the stimulation around you, so blocking some of those sensations out can help you to center yourself.
  2. Stand up straight. My acupuncturist told me that this can help your breath flow better, which I can only imagine is a good thing.
  3. If you're sitting down, cross your legs. This often forces you to sit up straighter. If you already have your posture in check, completely relax your legs and sit however feels most comfortable. Comfort is key in relaxing!
  4. Breathe through your nose. This is another acupuncturist tip, meaning I can't explain why it works but it does.
  5. Put your hands behind your back. In addition to helping you straighten your posture, this position forces you to use your diaphragm to breathe, which supposedly is a "healthier" way to breathe.
  6. When breathing, stick to a rhythm. I do the "in-two-three-four/out-two-three-four" breathing technique, which essentially just means you count to four while you breathe in and count to four while you exhale. Even just concentrating on sticking to that rhythm can take your mind off things.
  7. If you can't figure out how to breathe with your diaphragm, try putting your hands over your head.
  8. If that doesn't work, stretch out your tummy in an upward facing dog pose. Stretch out as you inhale and relax as you exhale.
  9. Take yourself into the fresh air and try meditative walking. Really all this means is walking as slowly as possible to focus on your breathing and the feeling of moving your limbs to clear your mind of distractions.
  10. Drink water and decaf teas during times of stress. Staying hydrated is almost always the answer to any physical problem (and anxiety is often very physical) you may have.

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