My mom gave me a gift. She gave it to me years ago when I was little, but I'm just now opening it. Or in this case, not opening it. It's the ability to talk while my mouth is clenched. Mom could have an entire conversation with her lips tightly together whenever my sister and I were doing something wrong. It was truly impressive.
Today, I'm perfecting this technique with my own daughter (something for her to pass down, I'm sure). And for Mother's Day, I'm giving you a gift. The gift of learning how to unclench those lips and breathe.
Here's a quick technique Michael Moore, massage therapist and owner of Boston's Moore Massage, uses on a daily basis to lessen the reactive impulses (read: clenched jaws) due to stresses of daily living (read: he’s a dad of two kids).
His fast, powerful stress relieving technique, called Diaphragmatic Breathing:
When we're stressed-out, anxious, we tense up and start breathing shallowly, using mostly our chest and/or neck muscles. Our physical and primal instinct is to take rapid breathes, getting blood flowing to our extremities for fight or flight mode to deal with the immediate danger or stresser.
Living very busy lives, most folks are continuously in this mode and when coupled with a screaming child it can be overwhelming. When practicing diaphragmatic breathing not only during a crisis but on a daily basis as a mindful part of a healthy lifestyle, the benefits will minimize chronic stress and illness!
When you're stressing out, turn your attention to how your breathing. Are you not breathing enough, too fast, or too shallow? Stay focused on the breath, not on the problem at hand.
Place one hand on your abdomen, between your lowest rib and your belly button. You can do this even in line at the grocery store.
Place your other hand on your chest, just above the breast area. Breathe a little slower and deeper, notice your torso expand. The goal is for your breathing to cause the hand on your chest to move as little as possible while the hand on your abdomen rises and falls with each breath. That's diaphragmatic breathing--deep slow breathing without passing out. If you become light-headed or you feel at all out of breath stop for a while.
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