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The holidays can make anyone feel the dizzying effects stress. For those who are recovering from the experience of trauma, addictions, or other mental health issues, the holidays can be particularly trying. Everyone, recovery or not, can benefit from the benefits of taking time to pause and breathe. Breathing is inarguably important. Once we stop breathing, we shortly stop being alive. Throughout the day we are often unconscious of our breathing and as a result, we are breathing in a very shallow manner. Additionally, we often hold our breath without realizing it.

“Taking a breather” is not something we feel like we should have to do. Taking a breather is something we should all be doing more often. Many people associate taking time out to breathe as meditation or something like it. Taking time to breathe is a scientifically proven way to reduce stress.

Looking forward to just a few deep breaths might not be as motivating to some. Having a variety of breathing techniques in one’s arsenal can provide options.

Lean forward, lean back

There are practices of Buddhist breathing techniques that involve sitting up and leaning down as far as possible on the inhale and the exhale for certain counts. Without getting too technical, you can utilize this kinetic energy during your breathing practice. Find a comfortable seated position, either on the floor, on a surface, or on a chair. With a slight lean forward, inhale to your fullest capacity. Start from the bottom of your belly, filling up until you reach the top of your chest. Upon the exhale, curl your spine and continue to curl as you push the energy downward and backward. Keep curling and pushing until all the breath is gone.

Breathe in for X, breathe out for Y

Counting the amount of time for breath can help you increase your awareness of the breath. Lay down comfortably and put your hand on your stomach. Feeling the rising and falling of the belly caused by the inflation and deflation of the diaphragm also heightens your awareness in a healthy and non-stimulating way. Breathe in for a count that is comfortable for you, pause, but not for uncomfortably long, then try to control your exhale and extend it as long as possible. Pick number intervals which help you relax, making sure the exhale is always longest.