10/26/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Unplug And Recharge: 2 Little Steps To Less Stress

Inhale. Exhale. Ahhh...

"This is the first moment in weeks I've had to take a breath," my sister declared the other day, exhaling loudly. She's juggling an out-of-work husband, a job she hates, and the care of our 80-year-old mother. Her remark struck me so resoundingly, like a bell ringing to highlight something profoundly true for us all, perhaps, because a client had said something similar to me just a few hours earlier. "I just need some room to breathe," said Jackie, a mother of three with a full-time job as a school principal.

Breathing room. It's a metaphor for something we all could use more of: some space in our lives--space to catch up with ourselves, to regroup, to metabolize whatever we've been going through so we can know how we feel and what to do next.

Pausing to breathe is more than a metaphor, however. Consciously taking a few deep breaths is actually the quickest way to experience the body's relaxation response.


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