By: David Vittoria, LCSW, MCAP, ICADC, Senior Vice President of Clinical Business & Product Development at Carisk Partners
To stay peacefully productive amidst the challenges of the COVID-19 outbreak, try this simple mindful breathing exercise that will help you develop a sense of calm and focus. The beauty of this kind of consciously connected breathing is that you can practice it anywhere and anytime, without any kind of equipment or advanced training. All you need is the air in your lungs, a sense of purpose, and you’re all set.
The basic technique is to focus your attention on inhaling and exhaling with openness and curiosity. Studies1 have shown that the ability to focus attention on your breath can help you deal with everyday stress, anxiety and emotional ups and downs.
Here’s how to do it:
- Whether you are standing or sitting, become aware of your posture, and straighten your spine so that you feel alert and relaxed, but not rigid.
- Take a few deep breaths.
- Notice how your body feels.
- Bring your awareness to any part of your body that feels tense and relax those muscles.
- Now bring your awareness back to your breath.
- Notice where you feel the breath most in your body.
- Settle into a relaxed focus as you follow the sensation of each inhale and exhale.
- When you notice that your mind has wandered (it will, and that’s okay) simply acknowledge the sensations, thoughts or feelings that arise with open curiosity, and then let them go.
- Continue to gently redirect your attention back to your breath for as long you’d like.
1 Feldman, G., Greeson, J., & Senville, J. (2010). Differential effects of mindful breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and loving-kindness meditation on decentering and negative reactions to repetitive thoughts. Behaviour research and therapy, 48(10), 1002–1011. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2010.06.006