By Rita Manfredi, MD, FACEP
Several techniques can be used to allow the body to de-stress if a quiet minute can be found alone.
Square Breathing: This simple breathing technique helps to control breathing and to calm down both hyperventilation and the anxiety that comes with it. The heart rate may slow down as well. Sit quietly and breathe in to the count of 4. Hold the breath for the count of 4. Exhale to the count of 4 and then hold the breath again to the count of 4. Pace the breathing by visualizing a square and counting: In 2, 3, 4. Hold 2, 3, 4. Out 2, 3, 4. Hold 2, 3, 4. Use this for several cycles until you feel quieted.
Mini-vacation: Think of a lovely, quiet, favorite or imagined place. Some use a fingernail or something to focus on to bring up the “vacation”. See the woods or the sea or mountains and put yourself in that place. Feel the place. Feel the sunshine and/or the breeze on your skin. Smell or Taste the air. Hear the sounds of the place. Relax in the body. Then return, refreshed.
Stress Relaxation: Sit, or if trying to get to sleep after a stressful day, lie down. Beginning with the toes, flex for a few seconds, then completely relax the muscles. Keep them relaxed. Flex and relax the foot muscles. Flex and relax the calf muscles, then the thigh muscles. Legs should be relaxed. Move into abdominal and back muscles, shoulders and arms. Flex and relax. Neck, face and scalp. Sit relaxed for a few moments. Return to tasks.