The American Psychological Association (APA) offered insight into five science-based strategies to manage stress, specifically for healthcare professionals due to the demands on those professionals throughout the pandemic. The first strategy is “Calm Yourself”.
The APA offers a 4-4-6 breathing technique: Slowly breathe in for four counts, hold the breath for four counts, and then breathe out for six counts, repeating 10 times. They go on to explain how slowing your breathing allows the body to recalibrate and improves overall well-being and function.
Other Breathing Exercises
- Mindful Diaphragmatic Breathing – Pay attention to the depth of your breaths in addition to the speed. Breathe slowly and deeply in your belly, rather than in your chest
- Visualization Breathing – Visualize your breath pulling the stress from your extremities as you inhale and visualize it leaving your body as you exhale. Repeat as needed.
- Deep, Cleansing Breaths – Breathe in through your nose until your lungs seem full, then exhale until your lungs are completely empty. Be mindful of tension in your neck, shoulders, back or jaw and release that tension as you exhale.
- Alternative Nostril Breathing – Alternate breathing through one nostril while covering the other with a finger. This is a great exercise using the 4-4-6 technique above or any other counted breathing rhythm
Other Calming Exercises
- Soak in a warm bath
- Listen to music or soothing sounds
- Write in a journal
- Do yoga or take a walk
- Treat yourself to a massage and/or a manicure/pedicure