Are you tired of being stressed and tense all the time? Well, stop what you’re doing. I’m going to give you the answer to everything, the veritable “42”.
Are you ready? You might want to sit down for this.
And, with that, I’m out. There’s nothing else left to say. I’ve given you the secret, the key.
But wait! There’s more?
Truthfully (here’s where I get serious again) – there’s no better way to help your body relax than to just breathe. And by “breathe”, I’m not talking about the normal, shallow, sad excuse for a breath that we usually take. I’m talking deep, feel it all the way into your toes breathing. Just five minutes (or even less) of deep breathing can help you to relieve anxiety and bring your stress levels back under control.
The average person uses his chest muscles rather than his diaphragm when he breathes, and such breathing is usually shallow, rapid and irregular.
Though chest breathing has now become natural and involuntary for most of us, it is really a part of the fight or flight syndrome, aroused when the organism is challenged by some external stress or danger. Because of the reciprocity between the breath and mind, chest breathing, in turn, gives rise to the tension and anxiety associated with the fight or flight syndrome.” – The Science of Breath
Yes, you read that right. Our normal style of breathing actually makes us MORE stressed, unconsciously triggering the fight or flight response. Say what?
Breathing, that thing that our body does without us even having to think about it, can either relieve stress (when utilized mindfully) or cause it. Take a second to think on that. And take a few deep breaths while you do.
Every time we take a deep breath in, we’re bringing in energy to fuel our cellular processes. The body needs food as fuel, but we also need oxygen to support healthy body function. The heart, the brain – all our systems need oxygen. We can go for up to 3 weeks without food, three or four days without water, but only for three to four minutes without oxygen. Yeah, it’s that important.
So the next time you’re feeling particularly stressed, take a minute or five to find someplace quiet (or just sit down right where you are and close your eyes) and just breathe.
Here’s how: feel the breath start deep in your abdomen, expanding through the lower ribs and into the chest, maybe even feeling like it’s going to raise the collar bones slightly. Allow the exhale to be slow and smooth, contracting the ribs as you let all that stale air out. Then, repeat as necessary.
It doesn’t get a whole lot easier than that. Breathe. Repeat. It’s as simple as being mindful of something that we automatically do over 20,000 times per day.
So what are you waiting for? I guarantee that you can spare five minutes out of your day to give this a try – five minutes a day, for the next week. Then report back. I’d love to hear what differences it makes.