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Feeling stressed? This breathing technique might be just the trick you need

In 3, hold 12, out 6

Breathe in, breathe out.
Breathe in, breathe out. (Kelvin Valerio/Pexels stock image)

Did you realize just how powerful our breath can really be?

If you’re having some anxiety, for example, maybe a big test is coming up, you just got cut off in rush-hour traffic or you’re preparing for a job interview, it’s normal, in a way, to get into this “fight, flight or freeze” response -- we’ll often start breathing shallow and rapidly, which puts more adrenaline and oxygen into our system and makes us feel lightheaded.

We don’t want that.

“It’s just not an appropriate response to most of the acute stressors we come across now,” said Terry Rawls, a recent guest on The Best Advice Show, who described the following breathing technique, saying he used to utilize this trick as a psychotherapist.

What Rawls described to podcast host Zak Rosen is called a 3-12-6 breathing exercise.

You get a rhythm going, just tap out a beat with your finger or your toe, and then inhale for three seconds. Hold it for 12 -- or shoot for eight, if 12 seems like too long of a time -- and then let it out for six.

Listen to him explain it in the podcast episode below; it’s only a few minutes long.

This is a technique that’s guaranteed to work, Rawls said. You can do it anytime, anywhere: while walking, driving, or even in the middle of the night in bed.

When you think about, or focus on, your breath and the counting, you’re not thinking about whatever it is that’s stressing you out. The exercise will regulate and normalize the oxygenation in your blood, and your adrenaline levels will calm down, Rawls said.

In turn, you’ll calm down.

He did add, this is best for acute or situational anxiety. If your anxiety is chronic, you’ll still want to seek professional help.

Rosen wants to hear from you next.

To contribute some of your advice, drop him a voicemail at 844-935-BEST. Leave your name and your tip, followed by your email address in case he has any follow-up questions.

It can be deep or not-so-deep. Rosen has a “Food Fridays” feature in which he’d love to feature your cooking advice.

He’s not so much interested in platitudes and truisms, but instead, looking for the specific, odd, uplifting, effective, real advice from you about how you make it through your days.

“The Best Advice Show” is a product of Graham Media Group. Download it wherever you listen to or access podcasts.


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