Helpful Skills for Relaxation

Diaphragmatic Breathing:
Learning to breathe correctly is one of the easiest and most effective methods for learning how to relax. Although breathing is automatic, as we grow older we sometimes develop the habit of taking short shallow breaths. This often results from increased muscle tension in times of stress. This type of breathing delivers less oxygen to your body and can cause your chest and shoulder muscles to work even harder. However, you can train yourself to breathe in a way that helps you to relax. Diaphragmatic breathing is a technique that requires you to use the muscles in your diaphragm and abdomen when you breathe. The diaphragm is a domed-shaped muscle located between your chest cavity and stomach cavity. During correct breathing the diaphragm is tightened and pulls the lower part of your lungs down so that more air can be inhaled. As you inhale, your abdomen/belly swells, the rib cage expands, and at the end of the inhalation the upper chest expands. If you ever watch a baby or a small child sleep you will notice that it is their belly – not their chest – that rises and falls as they breathe. Diaphragmatic breathing consists of the following steps:
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