Breathe.

How have you felt since the Boston Marathon terrorist attack?

I’ve felt horror, disgust, rage, and sadness. Right now I feel numb.

And this is from miles away. I can’t imagine how I would feel if I’d been on ground zero, witnessing the carnage.

But I can imagine what it’s like to face trauma such as rape, abuse, accidents, and crime. I hear it from my psychotherapy clients all too often.

Survivors of trauma like bombings or abuse may develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a clinical syndrome I detail HERE in my Psycho Author series. Quite a few of my characters have struggled to heal from PTSD.

What’s a simple tool to help anyone who’s endured a traumatic event? BREATHE.

When we get scared, our breathing changes, becoming quicker and shallower, or stopping for a moment. Such changes only serve to increase our panic and tension.

Simply paying attention to our breath can help calm us when we’re feeling stressed. But deep breathing, aka diaphragmatic breathing or belly breathing, is even more helpful.

1) Take a few moments to notice your breath. Breathe in through your nose and out your mouth. Let your body’s natural rhythm of breathing gently become slower and deeper, but still easy and relaxed.

2) Let that breath go deep into your belly. Place one hand on your chest and one hand on your belly (below your belly button). Keep the hand on your chest still, while pushing out the hand on your belly with air.

3) The diaphragm is the muscle lining beneath your lungs. Feel the diaphragm push down as you inhale.

I hope that noticing your breath helps you deal with the multitude of feelings from the Boston Marathon or other traumatic events.