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Financial De-Stress – Week 1: Breathing to Relax

In 2021, we sent out this collection of de-stressing exercises to a group of clients over the span of 10 weeks in hopes that they might help alleviate the anxiety of debt as our clients moved through their journeys. We received such amazing feedback that we wanted to make sure the rest of our clients had access to these 10 meditation, mindfulness, and awareness exercises as well! We’ll be releasing a new one each Monday morning, so check in at the start of each week for a brand new exercise.

This first exercise may sound so easy that you may wonder how it can be helpful. The truth is when we are stressed and anxious, our breathing automatically becomes shallow and irregular, which only causes more anxiousness and heightens our stress level.

We should all practice breathing in a profound, slow manner, called diaphragmatic breathing. This rhythmic breathing can relax our entire system and ends the conflict between two systems inside our bodies:

  • The sympathetic nervous system gets us into the threat-response mode
  • The parasympathetic nervous system is triggered and begins to calm us down.

Deep breathing is a guaranteed way to activate our parasympathetic nervous system. When the PNS is working, our threat response system automatically turns off for a while.

Despite how simple this seems, our breathing and ability to handle stress improve the more we practice deep breathing to relax. Moving forward, we recommend doing the following at least three times a day for the next week.

1. First, place your feet on the floor, sit up straight in your chair, and close your eyes.

2. Imagine there’s a string from the crown of your head pulling you up towards the sky.

3. Allow your shoulders to relax and let your chest shine forward.

4. Place your right hand on your stomach and your left hand on your heart.

5. Notice how you feel and any tension you’re carrying.

6. Now, slowly breathe into your belly, allowing it to expand. Now, hold it for 3 – 2 – 1. Slowly exhale.

7. Let’s do it again and this time filling your lungs up to your heart. Hold it for 3 – 2 – 1. Exhale slowly from your chest down to your stomach.

8. Inhale into your stomach, chest, and even fill your throat, making this breath even more profound than the last. Hold it for 3 – 2 – 1. Slowly release any tension you’re holding.

Pro Tip for Breathing on Busy Days:
If you don’t have time to stop during the day and do an entire breathing exercise, but you want to get some on the relaxing effect of deep breathing, try this: Breathe in slowly, through your nose, into your stomach. Hold for 3, 2, 1. Exhale through your mouth, releasing more breath than you took in.

That’s it for your first exercise. Next week we will have a new method of relaxation to help you continue to de-stress.

Have a relaxed day!

Join Our Client Sessions

If you’re interested in learning more about ways to stay motivated, cope with stress, and receive other support, contact [email protected] and ask to be invited to our “Join the Conversation” sessions. These private virtual sessions are specially designed as a safe space for Beyond Finance clients. You’ll learn about different topics related to dealing with debt, meet other clients, and participate in a Q & A session where you can ask our financial therapists anything you like.