Is it just me or is life getting more stressful?
It’s such an overused phrase, “just breath”, but if you’re like me and are feeling higher levels of stress these days, it maybe worthwhile stopping to take a breath…
That may sound a stupid thing to say, especially as we breath every day, but studies have shown that as we become more stressed our breathing changes. It has a tendency to become shallower, and as our muscles in our shoulders and ribcage tense our breathing becomes more restrictive with the resultant reduction in oxygen to our systems. As we start to shallow breath we transfer the work for breathing from our diaphragm to our shoulders and rib cage. This takes more effort, tires out the muscle groups and increases the feeling of tension, and prolongs the mood.
Think about how you breath when your relaxed.
You probably cant remember.
That’s because breathing is an unconscious act, think about it. If you had to remember to breath every few seconds some of you out there would pass out on a regular basis. Our world today is so full of activities, distractions, concerns and worries that breathing… well its just something you do.
But studies have shown that making breathing a conscious act, focusing on it forces our mind and our body to relax as we take in vast lungs full of air. Taking fifteen minutes to recharge your oxygen system is better than focusing on that task for two hours. Trade fifteen minutes of relaxation and breathing for two hours of forced, tense focus and you will be better equipped to meet the deadline, deal with that challenging problem or just get your work done quicker.
Diaphragmatic breathing, can lower blood pressure, reduce heart rate, relax muscles, decrease stress, and increase energy levels.
So how do you do it?
Set a five minute timer on your phone
Then in a sitting position close your eyes and place your arms on the chair arms, or place them in your lap.
- Place both feet flat on the ground roughly hip-width apart.
- Let your breath flow as deep down into your stomach as you can without forcing it.
- Breath in through your nose and out through your mouth.
- Breathe in gently and regularly. Some people find it helpful to count steadily from 1 to 5. You may not be able to reach 5 at first. But focus on your breathing and as thoughts drift into your mind let them slip away and refocus on your count.
- Then, without pausing or holding your breath, let it flow out gently, counting from 1 to 5 again, if you find this helpful.
Keep doing this for 5 minutes and then stop when your alarm sounds. Roll your shoulders forwards and then backwards ten times. Now close your eyes and repeat the exercise a further two times until you have completed fifteen minutes.
Now go back to work and you will find you have so much more energy and focus.