Put Your Day on Pause

In the midst of a pressure-packed day, it's tempting to grit your teeth and push through. Why not take a breather? "When you pause after an exhale, before drawing in your next breath, you create a moment that allows you to let go of whatever transpired before," says Roman Szpond, founder and owner of Inner Strength Studios in Watertown, Massachusetts. This temporary respite prevents stress from snowballing, interrupts the tendency to take shallow breaths, and raises self-awareness. "Once you see how you're contributing to your own tension," he says, "you can make adjustments." Best of all, this inconspicuous technique works anywhere -- at the dentist, at your desk, even in the midst of a tense conversation. So go ahead. Hit "pause."

Try It Right Now
1. Lengthen
Sit or stand, with both feet flat on the floor. Imagine the top of your head extending toward the ceiling.
What it does
Creates space in the spine and torso, allowing your lungs to expand fully.

2. Inhale
Take a deep, full breath: Picture your abdomen filling with air from the bottom of your belly, and your lungs filling to the top of your chest.
What it does
Brings oxygen into your cells, restoring and energizing your whole body.

3. Exhale
Release the breath in reverse order, from the top of the lungs to the lowest part of the belly. At the same time, mentally let go of anything that's bothering you.
What it does
"The exhale is detoxifying," Szpond explains. "It's like a sigh, releasing as much emotional energy as it does air."

4. Pause
When you reach the "bottom" of your exhale, rest for a beat before you inhale (without tightening or holding your breath); repeat. "Think of it as simply allowing your breathing mechanism to relax for a moment," says Szpond.
What it does
Creates a moment of stillness that helps your mind slow down and your body relax.

Here's another quick exercise to boost your energy and relax at work.

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