Many people think of breathing as something that just comes naturally, in order to keep us alive. But did you know that your breathing can change depending on your mood? And that by changing your breathing, you can actually improve your mood?

When you’re depressed, your respiration is likely to be very shallow. Constricted breathing can reduce your blood’s supply of oxygen, which is crucial in order for your body to function properly. It also causes tension, both physical and mental. But by learning a few techniques for opening up and deepening your breathing, you just may say goodbye to the blues.

First, you need to become aware of how you’re breathing. Lie down on the floor, keeping your legs straight and slightly apart, your arms at your sides but not touching your body, palms up, and eyes closed. This is known as corpse pose, in yoga. Put your hand on the spot on your body that’s rising and falling. Is it high up on your chest? If it is, your breathing is too shallow and you’re not fully using your lungs.

Now place your hands on your abdomen, and see if you can make it rise and fall. A noticeable rising and falling is a good indication that your lungs are fully engaged. Breathe deeply through your nose, and make sure your abdomen rises and falls with each breath. Focus on letting go of any tension that’s in any part of your body.

You now should try to take your breathing down to the next level. Raise your knees and keep your feet on the floor. Again, assess your body for tension and concentrate on letting it flow away. Put one hand on your abdomen and the other on your chest. Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose, pulling the breath into your stomach until you feel it rise. Practice this until it feels comfortable. Work toward increasing the depth of your breaths until you are breathing in and out no more than four times a minute, or once every 15 seconds.

Once you’ve mastered the secret to deep, productive breathing, you can do it anytime you feel upset or depressed, up to 20 minutes at a time. By taking the time to relax and breathe properly, you’ll energize yourself and increase your positive thoughts while losing negative ones.