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A Simple, Quick, Private Way To Manage Your Day-to-Day and Emergency Stress . . . by Hal Alpiar


This 4-step, on-the-spot stress management technique (for using your breathing — NOT BREATHING FIRE! ūüėČ ) is being used —right this minute,¬†as you are reading this— by millions of healthcare, business, sports, entertainment, Internet, sales, teaching, and homemaker professionals.¬†

It works for every age and level of health. It will work for you too!


First . . .

Sit or stand, feet flat on the floor, hands at your sides.  (Crossed arms, legs, ankles, and wrists constrain your blood and oxygen flow.)  Close your mouth. 

Take a slow deep breath in through your nose, as you mentally say to yourself: “Healing energy into my body [or name the place that feels most stressful].”

Second . . .

Mentally direct the air you inhale into the bottom part of your lungs so your stomach sticks out instead of your chest (opposite of your usual top-of-the-lung breathing).

Third . . .

Now—before exhaling—shift the air to the top part of your lungs so that your stomach is in and your chest is out.¬†

Hold it there a few seconds, then loosen your jaw and exhale through your mouth in a slow steady stream so you can hear yourself. 

Mentally, say to yourself: “Stress and tension out of my body¬†[or out of the place you named that felt most stressful].” Pay attention to your airflow. Listen to it.¬†

The goal is to eliminate or smooth out any nervous-sounding “hitches” in your exhale.¬† The next step will help you do that.¬†¬†

Fourth . . .

When you think you’ve breathed out all the air, don’t believe it!¬† Give an extra little push or two at the end of your exhale.¬† It’s these extra exhale pushes that do the trick, that will make this exercise work for you.¬†

As soon as all the air is all out, close your mouth and inhale again through your nose, repeating the process again until you hear yourself exhale smoothly and evenly, until no nervous little airflow “hitches” remain.


Go slowly at first, the same way you would begin any new exercise.¬† If you experience slight dizziness or excessive coughing (or see smoke if you are a smoker!), don’t be alarmed.¬†

These are simply “signals” from your body that your oxygen is not circulating enough and that you can benefit even more by doing more deep breathing more often.

Simply return to your “normal” way of breathing. And then try it again later and work up to taking more full deep breaths. This is the Mother of all self-management/self-control methods.¬† Work at it!

Practice.¬† You’ll soon be taking deep breaths as most athletes and performers do—on the spot in stressful situations, and routinely for ongoing good health—without being noticed!

Every deep breath you take increases blood flow to relax your muscles, boosts oxygen supply to your brain to help you be more alert . . . and soothes your neurological system.

Every deep breath you take increases your personal productivity by increasing your mental focus on the present moment, on what is right in front of you.  After all, along with your pulse and your heartbeat, your breathing is the most immediate happening in your entire life.

And, remember, if you can train yourself to take deep breaths in response to stressful situations, you will be responding instead of reacting.  When you can prevent yourself from reacting, you eliminate all risk of over-reacting.

Just as flames die without oxygen, so will your ability to focus productively on the present moment die out when your “normal” way of breathing fails to deliver enough blood-flow to your muscles and enough oxygen to your brain.¬†

When you use the 4 steps shown above, you keep your mind and body tuned into the present moment . . . and since the present moment is all we really have in life:

The secret of life . . . is breath!


This article was published in HealthWize magazine.¬† Variations¬†appear in Hal’s books,¬†HEALTHCAREPRENEURS (for healthcare professionals and first responders), DOCTOR BUSINESS (for physicians) and DOCTOR SHOPPING (for consumers).¬† Originally adapted from Hatha Yoga, it is the foundation for stress management techniques taught by the author¬†to over 50,000 entrepreneurs, small business owners and managers, healthcare and law enforcement professionals, school and professional athletes, and corporate management teams.

17 comments so far

17 Comments to “ARE YOU BREATHING? . . .”

  1. Melanie Adairon 30 Nov -0001 at 12:00 am

    A MUST read and practice each day!

    I’m hooked all over again.

  2. Judy Vorfeldon 18 Feb 2008 at 11:34 pm

    Hal, what a wonderful exercise. Back in the Ice Age, I took voice lessons, and learned how to breathe the way you describe. My instructor didn’t mention the benefits that you mention, but his goals were different. He wanted me to be a great singer. Didn’t happen, although at times I was an “okay” singer.

    Speaking of breathing, I was almost breathless when I saw the masthead for your new blog. What fantastic photography.

    I can see that your blog is going to be interesting and enlightening. We need more people like you blogging their hearts out!

    [Judy Vorfeld is publisher and editor of Webgrammar and Communication Expressway online newsletters]

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