4 Breathing Techniques for Calm

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

Breathing is one of my favorite ways to find calm when I feel overwhelmed, anxious or frustrated. And best of all, you can do this whenever you need to, no matter where you are, and you can practice multiple times a day. In this post, I’m sharing five breathing techniques you can use to tap into your inner peace. But before I do, here are a few tips:

 

  • If possible, get somewhere that’s quiet and distraction-free.
  • These can be done with your eyes opened or closed (but obviously, if your eyes are going to be closed, don’t drive or operate heavy machinery or anything like that). Sit up with your spine straight.
  • You can also listen to some music to help you focus better. Search for meditation music or relaxation music on YouTube, Google Play, etc.
  • You can practice the techniques until you feel more relaxed.
  • Be gentle with yourself and remember, it’s a practice.

1. Deep/belly breathing. (This is actually the way you’re supposed to breathe, so it’s good to practice regularly).

  • Sit tall with a straight spine and relax your shoulders.
  • Inhale fully and deeply through your nose allowing your belly to fill with air like a balloon.
  • Exhale completely through your nose, allowing your belly button to go towards your spine.
  • Repeat 5 to 10 times or until you feel calmer.

2. Equal Breathing

  • Use the same breathing technique as above.
  • Count to 4 as you inhale, then count to 4 as you exhale.
  • Repeat a few times or until you feel more relaxed.

3. 4-7-8 breathing (This is a great technique to use if you have trouble falling asleep).

  • Inhale fully and deeply (fill your belly with air) through your nose as you count to 4.
  • Hold the breath for a count of 7.
  • Exhale fully and deeply (allowing your navel to go towards your spine) as you count to 8.
  • Repeat 5 to 10 times or until you’re more peaceful (or asleep).

4. Relaxation Response.

  • As you sit, start your from the top of your head and scan your body, releasing any tension you might be holding on to.
  • Inhale through your nose, focusing on your breath.
  • Exhale and say a word to yourself like breathe, relax, calm or peace.
  • Continue for 2 minutes or until you feel calmer.

 

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5 Signs You’re Stressed (And May Not Know It)

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

It can be tricky to know you’re experiencing stress, especially if it’s constant and you feel that’s “just how things are” and/or it’s a way of life. If you’re reading this blog post, I’m sure you’d like to recognize signs of stress so you can create more calm in your life.

Here are five signs that you might be dealing with stress and don’t know it:

  1. You’re irritable or experience mood swings. You might find yourself getting annoyed easily or that the smallest things get on your nerves. You might also find that you snap on people more quickly
  2. You have a hard time concentrating. If you find that you have difficulty focusing on tasks or that you often forget things, you might be dealing with stress and overwhelm.
  3. You may have physical symptoms. You might experience headaches, muscle tension, a change in your appetite and weight loss or gain.
  4. You procrastinate often. You may feel overwhelmed by all you need to do, so you put tasks off or wait until the last minute.
  5. You have sleep issues. If you have trouble falling or staying asleep at night, and/or feel tired throughout the day, stress may be the culprit.

A few ways to combat your stress and find calm (in case you need a reminder):

  • Meditate.
  • Practice yoga.
  • Live in the moment.
  • Create daily habits and routines for calm and self-care.
  • And, of course, check out the shop for resources!

Dear Black Woman

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

Dear Black woman,

Growing up, you probably heard that you needed to be a “strong Black woman,” or you heard your mama, aunts, grandmas, etc. described that way. And now, as an adult, you probably feel at least some pressure to be super woman and do it all — smoothly and with a smile being a mom and/or partner, working, cooking, cleaning, volunteering, taking care of your loved ones, not to mention dealing with societal issues like racism and sexism. You don’t stop to take a breath, to take a minute for yourself, because you don’t have make time. Deep down, you might feel like you don’t deserve to truly take care of yourself or you feel that someone has to do this stuff (and it has to be you, right?). I mean, who the hell is going to take care of everything while I’m chillin’? 

First, I want you to close your eyes, and take a deep breath: Inhale slowly. Exhale slowly. Now, hear me when I say this:

It is okay for you to be calm, centered, and cared for. It is NECESSARY for you to be calm, centered, and cared for — if you want to feel good, whole, at peace. And you DESERVE IT.

Let me ask you this: Does it feel good to be stressed out, burned out, frustrated, overwhelmed? I mean, yeah, you might be “making it” and “surviving,” but don’t you want to thrive? I know we, as Black women, are pretty much pros at keeping a survival mentality, of having just enough and saying things like, ‘Well, it’s not that bad; I’m still here,’ or ‘Things could be worse,’ or ‘It is what it is.’ Yes, you’re still here, and things could be worse, and you should be thankful for that. However, I don’t think that means you can’t or shouldn’t strive to live a life where you’re happy and calm most of the time. The late Dr. Maya Angelou once said, “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor and some style.” So yeah, you can continue on the path you’re on, barely making it, always feeling stressed and on the verge of burning out. But wouldn’t it feel better to choose differently, to live from a space of peace and have joy?

You might be saying, “Yes, Jamie, what you’re saying makes sense, and that would feel better. But how do I live from a space of peace and have more joy? How do I become calm, centered, and cared for?

  1. Decide that you want something different, and commit to doing it. Write down what you want, and make a plan.
  2. Determine what your stressors are so you’ll know what areas you can control and can’t control. (Here’s a worksheet for you).
  3. Make the practices that keep you calm and centered a daily habit. Examples include meditation, deep breathing yoga, and practicing mindfulness.
  4. Seek out resources and even professional help if you need it.
  5. Learn to surrender and go with the flow when it comes to things you can’t control.
  6. Practice gratitude.
  7. Make self-care a daily practice.

These are just a few general tips to help you get started. And if you have questions, I’m here.  : )

“True and lasting inner peace can never be found in external things. It can only be found within. And then, once we find and nurture it with ourselves, it radiates outward.” – (attributed to) Buddah 


If you’re ready to stress less and create more calm, my book, The Black Girl’s Guide to Calm Experience shares practical tools that will help you find your calm and peace in your crazy, chaotic life. Click here to learn more and download.

If you need one-on-one assistance with creating your Stress Less Strategy, contact me.

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Stress Awareness Month Event: From Stress to Serenity

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

Did you know that April is Stress Awareness Month? And since Black Girl’s Guide to Calm is all about sharing ways you can manage your stress and/or stress less, I’m hosting an interview series on Blab.im every Monday at 9 PM Eastern (until May 2nd) with some dope women who will give their tips and advice on creating calm.

>> First up was Tara Pringle Jefferson, a blogger,  speaker, writer, self-care coach, and founder of the Bloom Beautifully Box. She shared with us the importance of self-care and how to care for ourselves more often. (And you can watch the replay here).

>> This Monday, 4/11, we have Tracey Corretta, a womanist writer and certified yoga teacher based in Philadelphia. We’ll be chatting about how yoga can help us create calm and how you can start your practice.

>> On 4/18, the guest is Dr. Nadia Richardson, Founder of No More Martyrs and Valenrich Wellness, LLC. We’re talking mental health awareness and resources.

>> Next, on 4/25 is Ivy Felicia, Body Relationship Coach, and we’re talking releasing stress and worry around your body and self-love.

>> And on 5/2, we have Trelani Michelle, author and spiritual writing coach. We’re talking creating calm and spirituality.

Make sure you join us and learn ways to create calm and live fulfilled in your daily life (plus ask any questions you have). Also, you access all the blabs here.