This is the first part of a series of simple stress relief tools you can use easily, quickly and get the relief you need.
Stress Relief Tool #1: Focused Breathing! Breathe Consciously!
Even though you’ve heard this from me often, it is really the first thing you need to focus on to get some relief from those stressful thoughts and distressing feelings.
The great thing about this “tool” is that it can be practiced anywhere and anytime! It’s well documented in its ability to provide quick relief to your body and mind.
When stressed, we are usually breathing more shallow because we’re only breathing from the upper chest. We may even hold our breath in times of high anxiety. This creates tension and keeps us in an “emergency” physiological state in mind and body.
To regain back some calm, we have to breathe deeper down into the abdomen in order to fill the lower part of the lungs with that life giving element oxygen. Otherwise, our bodies remain in a state of alarm and we are robbed of the appropriate oxygen to relax the muscles and signal to the mind “all is ok.”
Here’s how to do Focused breathing or to breathe consciously:
Take a normal breath. Simply notice how you are breathing.
Now, take a deeper breath and imagine filling up your abdomen like a balloon.
Just let it puff out.
Notice how your belly expands. Simply expand to wherever is comfortable for you.
Now….let your breath out slowly.
Do this several times and notice how you feel.
I imagine you feel calmer…even if you weren’t stressed before practicing this…just practicing this focused breathing will bring more calmness and relaxation.
This happens because you begin to slow down your thoughts as you focus on your breathing. Your thoughts are shifted to breathing, instead of jumping around or following the same ole loop.
Additionally, as you bring in more oxygen into your body, you relax your muscles. As your body feels more relaxed, so, too can your mind relax even more.
Practicing something allows it to become mastered or second nature. Without practice, we will default to our old ways of being.
Think of a time when you were stressed out. Let yourself experience it completely.
Notice how tense your body is, notice your thoughts. On a level of 1-10, 10 being highly stressed, give it a score.
Now, say to yourself: BREATHE! and take a long slow deep breath. As you are breathing in, be fully aware of your breathing. Do this 3 times.
Now think of that stressed out time. What do you notice now? What score would you give that scenario now?
Ok, do it again. Think of the same scenario, notice how you are feeling. Now, say BREATHE! Take a good deep focused breath….and keep inhaling and exhaling 3 times.
Now, what level is that stressed scenario at? It’s lower, isn’t it? Perhaps really low…just with 2 practice sessions.
Go ahead and do it one more time. BREATHE! Take a breathe in slowly and exhale slowly, repeat 3 times.
Simple, yet very effective. Key is to keep practicing, so it becomes the first thing you do whenever you are feeling upset, nervous, needing a “time out,” to gather your thoughts.
Please share your experiences, as we can all benefit from what you learn.
Watch for the next simple stress relief tool coming up next!