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Deep Breathing to Reduce Stress during Travel

We all know that there is no such thing as stress free travel. However, a good travel tip to reduce tension is to perform diaphragmatic breathing.  With its focus on full, cleansing breaths powered by the diaphragm (an internal muscle between the thoracic cavity (heart, lungs & ribs) and the abdominal cavity), diaphragmatic breathing helps reduce tension and relieve stress, but also aids in digestion by massaging the abdominal muscles. Here’s a comparison between taking a breath normally and diaphragmatic breathing:

  1. Breath via the Chest: Your air intake is about 1 teacup of oxygen.  This makes your brain create shorter, more restless brain waves, which can add stress.
  2. Diaphragmatic Breathing: Your air intake is about 1 quart of oxygen. This helps your brain create longer, slower brain waves. These are similar to those that you experience when you are relaxed and calm, meaning it will reduce tension.

Another reason diaphragmatic breathing is a good travel technique to reduce tension is that it can be done anywhere at anytime. You don’t need equipment or privacy, so you can do it on an airplane, in the airport, in-line checking into your hotel, in your hotel room, or even at a client meeting.

How to Perform Diaphragmatic Breathing

The next time you feel stressed, try the following to create a more pleasant and good travel experience:

  1. Sit comfortably (Indian-style) with your back straight.
  2. Put one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach.
  3. Breathe in through your nose so that your shoulders and chest move very little. The hand on your stomach, however, should feel pushed out and away from your body.
  4. Exhale through your mouth, pushing out as much air as you can so that the hand on your stomach moves inward and towards your spine. Again, the hand on your chest should move very little.
  5. Continue to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth deeply enough so that your lower abdomen moves out and in.
  6. Once you get the hang of how this feels, begin counting. This will ensure you are controlling your breath and maximizing your lung capacity. Start by counting to one on your first inhalation and then count for 1 second on the exhalation. Next cycle of breaths count for two seconds on the inhale and then two seconds on the exhale. Work your way up to a 10 second inhale and 10 second exhale.

If you have a hard time performing diaphragmatic breathing while sitting, try it lying on the floor. Put a small book or something with some weight on your stomach. Try to breathe so that the book rises as you inhale and falls as you exhale.

Have you tried diaphragmatic breathing? Did it help? Do you have any other good travel tips to reduce tension?

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