By Diane M Hudson, M.S.Ed. (WIU 2010) & current Graduate student in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program, founder of Divine YogaFitness
November 8, 2016
What if I told you there was a free and easy method of stress relief that could guide you to more focused learning and possibly to a better grade? To make it even better than free, it’s something that we all know how to do; breathe. When we begin to understand what happens in our body when we breathe with awareness and depth, we can start using this tool to bring ourselves to a more calm and focused place.
Dr. Michael Olpin, Director of Weber State University’s Stress Relief Center in Utah, believes that “Focusing on your breath also brings your mind back to what is happening now, instead of worrying about what might happen in the future” (Olpin, 2012). By being in the present moment and acknowledging each breath, we are able to put our worries and anxiety on pause; giving our mind the opportunity to focus on the task at hand (such as a research paper, or a comprehensive final exam), rather than any negative possibilities. When our body and breath are calm, so is the mind; which can guide us to that better grade!
Try it now. Finding a comfortable seated position lightly close your eyes, and begin to focus on your inhale and exhale; not attempting to change it, simply acknowledging that it is there. Continue this awareness for 6-8 breaths. Then on an inhale, take the breath in through the nose, past the base of the throat, filling both lungs, and contracting the diaphragm (your belly will look like a balloon that was just filled with air). Now starting from the bottom, push the exhale out of the lungs, up past the the base of the throat, and out through an open mouth; making a hahhh sound as you exhale (thinking of the sound of the gentle waves, or Darth Vader breathing)! Repeat this breathing pattern 10-12 times; inhaling courage, exhaling fear; inhaling success, exhaling doubt.
Please keep in mind that although I am a trained practitioner and teacher of mindfulness and yoga; I am not a physician. If you have been instructed by a physician not to practice deep breathing techniques, please follow their instructions.
If you would like to learn more, I will be speaking about Breath, Mindfulness, and Yoga November 29th on the Mind, Body, & Soul panel (along with two other speakers) presented by the WIU-QC Psychology Club. The panel lectures and activities will run from 3:30 – 5:00 pm in Room 111 at the WIU Quad Cities Riverfront Campus.
Olpin, M., (2012). Breathing Techniques Reduce Test Anxiety and Increase Performance. Retrieved 11-8-2016 from: http://stressmanagementplace.com/breathing-techniques-reduce-test-anxiety-and-increase-performance.