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CDC suggests deep breathing to stay calm – it’s oh-so soothing

Find help in four steps to shed stress and anxiety, and dial in that oh-so-soothing comfort in every breath. (Dreamstime / TNS)
Find help in four steps to shed stress and anxiety, and dial in that oh-so-soothing comfort in every breath. (Dreamstime / TNS)
By Mary Forgione Los Angeles Times

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends taking deep breaths to improve your emotional health during the coronavirus outbreak. But how? There’s a technique to making the most of your deep, cleansing breaths – and it’s pretty easy to learn.

Here are four steps to shed stress and anxiety and find that oh-so-soothing comfort in every breath.

1. Get ready

I looked around online and downloaded the free XPT wellness and fitness app designed by Malibu surfer Laird Hamilton and his former pro-athlete wife Gabrielle Reece. The Breathwork Introduction program takes four minutes to learn the basics of breathing.

Here are my takeaways:

Breathe through your nose, not your mouth.

Breathe from the belly, not the upper chest. “Keeping one hand on your chest and one hand on your bellybutton” is an easy way to make sure you are doing it right, the app says.

Open your nasal passages by placing two fingers on the bridge of your nose and pushing up and back.

Best positions are lying down on your back with knees bent and lying on the floor or sitting up with legs straight or crossed, making certain your spine is straight.

2. Start breathing

I used the same app’s Belly Breathing lesson (still free) that takes about seven minutes. Lying on your back, you place a weighted item on your stomach. As you breathe, you can watch the object rise and fall – an easy way to keep breathing on track. I found this lesson totally doable and relaxing in a focused way.

3. Travel somewhere

After a bit, I added visuals. Fortunately, travel companies and destinations sidelined by the pandemic are keeping travelers engaged by posting soothing scenics and virtual tours online.

The Mauna Lani resort on the Island of Hawaii reminds us “aloha” means “the presence of breath” or “the breath of life.” (“It comes from ‘Alo,’ meaning presence, front and face, and ‘ha,’ meaning breath,” a hotel statement says.)

I practiced my newfound skills while watching one of its activity videos, listening to the whoosh of the ocean and breath cadences.

4. Go farther

Now you’ll be ready to take on the world, and it’s (virtually) waiting for you.

Lindblad Expeditions has a number of compelling “Ahhhh Moments” with which you can take a quick trip to Costa Rica, Alaska and Antarctica. I found even just listening to the sound of the water during my Alaska “visit” helped me breathe and relax.

It’s pretty easy to integrate a place into your breathing soundtrack. I selected a trip to Katherine’s Gorge in Nitmiluk National Park in northern Australia. Find your own dream destination – and breathe.

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