5 Ways Breathing Can Help You Keep Calm

Inhale, exhale.

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Tip No. 1: Go Deep (Then Even Deeper)

You're breathing while you read this (uh, we hope), but are you really taking a high-quality breath? Probably not. "We all survive at a minimum level of breathing that's often very shallow," says Ben Erez, founder of Breathe, an app that encourages you to breathe more mindfully by pinging you breathing reminders throughout the day. "When you take the time to actually take a deep breath, it's energizing and replenishing in a way that the shallow ones just aren't."

These simple steps can instantly help you feel more awake or reconfigure your focus at school or work.

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Here's what you need to do: sit up straight, and slowly inhale through your nose until you feel your lungs fill up. Then, at a steady pace, exhale the air through your nose or mouth. These simple steps can instantly help you feel more awake or reconfigure your focus at school or work.

Tip No. 2: Be Honest

Say you're having a heated debate about politics with a family member who just won't hear you out (timely!). Your immediate instinct is to get angry, right? But before you let yourself fly off the handle, stop before escalating the conversation and take a moment to breathe, right then and there. "I think there's a social stigma, to a degree, for breathing in a loud way that can be perceived by other people as frustration," Erez says. "Be clear to the other person that you're just breathing to improve your wellness and stay calm." Once you catch your breath (and your thoughts), try to calmly re-enter the conversation. But if you find that you're still angry, take a step back and determine if this is a headache worth having (while also continuing to breathe, of course).

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Tip No. 3: Engage Your Friends

Encourage your friends, family, and peers to join in on the well-oxygenated fun! "I've done this with my coworkers, so they understand the value and benefit of breathing deeply," Erez says. During an argument with your significant other, breathe in tandem and see if that helps you both collect and project your thoughts in a better way. Or before a group brainstorm, have everyone inhale and exhale to clear their minds and focus on generating ideas. You might get some laughs, but you'll all likely feel a little bit better afterward.

Tip No. 4: Leave a Message

Erez mentions a helpful tool on the Breathe app that allows you to get "breathers" or notifications that not only remind you to breathe, but also provide a nice affirmation that can reposition your frame of mind. "Try something like 'Hey, just take a deep breath, everything's fine,'" Erez says. "That little notification can help kick you out of whatever anxiety or pressure you're feeling." Come up with a self-affirming mantra or a message of gratitude that you can remember and repeat to get you through the day—or at least the next hour.

Tip No. 5: Find an App

Your phone is always nearby, anyway. Download an app that will foster healthy breathing techniques. "By and large, we just want to help people disengage from anxiety, and that's our guiding principle for the breathing app," Erez says.

Check out some other options below and find your favorite!

Breathe

Find It: breatheapp.co.

Essence

Find It: essence-breathe-relax.appstor.io.

Centered State

Find It: centeredstate.com.

Stop, Breathe & Think

Find It: stopbreathethink.org.

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