The breath is essential to life. And a calm breath is essential to defusing stress in a direct, immediate way. When stress arises, and it will, lean back and slowly breathe in through your nose and into your belly. Let the exhale be slow and gentle. After just a few short rounds, a relaxation response occurs which will enable you to feel better, think more clearly and respond skillfully. If your stress level is particularly intense, begin to slowly lengthen each exhale. This simple mindfulness technique allows you to shift how you are feeling, even if the source of the stress remains the same!