There are many ways relaxation supports pain management techniques. Here are a few relaxation practices that focus on breathing. After all, you take your breath with you wherever you go and it’s free of charge! No need for fancy electronics or other resources.
- It is important to cover a few breathing basics. Even though we breathe thousands of times per day, we rarely pay attention to it. We need to slow down. For most people, about 4-5 seconds per inhale and 4-5 seconds per exhale is a good pace.
This technique can vary based on the practice. Practice breathing through the nose, and exhaling through the mouth or nose. Another method is to practice diaphragmatic or “belly” breathing. Imagine having a balloon in your stomach that is inflating and deflating as you breathe. You can test your breathing by placing one of your hands on your chest and the other on your belly.
When you breathe, just notice which hand is moving. Try to have just the hand over your belly move. If this is difficult, you can lie down and put a pillow over your belly and practice moving the pillow as you breathe.
- One basic practice is to focus your attention on your breath. You just notice the sensation of air going into and out of your lungs. This is the practice of mindfulness. The challenge with this practice is to maintain attention on your breath while thoughts, feelings and sensations arise. The trick is to just notice these and return to your breath.
- People who prefer more structure can try 4-square breathing. In this practice you can imagine the shape of a square and move from corner to corner in a pattern.
- Breathe in slowly through your nose for a count of 4.
- Hold your breath for a count of 4.
- Breathe out through your mouth for a count of 4.
- Hold for a count of 4.