Welcome back for Part 2 of; Move + Breathe – Stress = Freedom.
Last time, you learned how simple and soft movement can totally overhaul your feelings throughout the day. Now, you have the second part of this powerful equation to reduce your levels of perceived stress, while boosting your overall life force and ability to move. Here is quick excerpt from part 1 to set the stage;
“Overbearing stress and crappy situations can be a real damper on your happiness and motivation to succeed. It is easy to procrastinate, use them as an easy excuse, or just feel debilitated by them and get absolutely nothing done at all; I know because I have those feelings begin to rise when faced with a bunch of stressful situations.
Many people devise tactics that help reduce stress, especially this time of the year. There are two that I find to be extremely powerful that require very little time to do well and do not need any special skills, environment, or equipment to make you feel better.”
If you happened to miss part 1 of this article, you can read it here:
Have you ever been nervous or scared, then you notice your heart is beating faster and you are tense in your shoulders and are taking sharp, small breaths? On the opposite end of the spectrum, what about when you are totally at rest, almost melting into your bed or sofa, breathing so softly and quietly you barely even notice at all? Breathing in plain black and white is necessary to keep living, but there are correct times and places for hard, heavy breathing as well as being soft and gentle.
When used correctly, it can do much more than just keep you alive once practiced as a skill (which, in fact, it really is!). Rather than boring you with the anatomy of what breathing does and how your body goes through respiration (*yawn*), here is some scientific literature on the positive impacts to your health breathing holds.
What Science Has to Say
The Journal of American College Health conducted a study evaluating the effects meditation-based stress-management had on stress, forgiveness, rumination[deep thought], and hope for undergraduate students. They concluded, “Evidence suggests that meditation-based stress-management practices reduce stress and enhance forgiveness among college undergraduates.”
The Journal of Human Hypertension investigated how short sessions of regular and slow breathing could lower blood pressure (which is a good thing). By using BIM (Breathing with Interactive Music), the method was a 10-minute daily practice for 8 weeks, and blood pressure was recorded consistently throughout the duration of the study. The majority of the active treatment group had a positive reaction, lowering their blood pressure more than double the amount versus those in the control group.
Finally, The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine investigated the benefits Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) on stress reduction. MBSR has been shown to have a positive impact on many physical and mental disorders, but little attention has validated its ability to aid healthy populations. They concluded that MBSR reduced stress, rumination[toxic thoughts], and trait anxiety. Enhanced spirituality value, relaxation, and self-compassion/empathy were also associated when practicing MBSR.
As You Can See…
The simple act of breathing in and out can be extremely powerful when used in a healing, therapeutic manner. I’m sure you’ve heard enough foundation to believe me, so here are some immediate ways to breathe better right now, and gift yourself better mental and physical health.
Using Technology to Your Advantage
Looking to find some peace, improve concentration, sleep soundly, or reduce anxiety/stress? Well, having the right platform to guide you is important. Here are three apps designed for guided relaxation and meditation:
Stop, Breathe & Think (which I currently use)
Lately, I have been also experimenting with Binaural Beats for Focus, Relaxation, Journaling Sessions, and to Meditate. This app lets you customize the exact type of ‘mood’ you want to be in, and is totally free!
Nasal Box Breathing
When you respirate in and out of your nose your body activates the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). Your PNS controls rest, the ability to relax, and digest more effectively. When the PNS is active, your breathing slows down, heart rate drops, blood pressure lowers, blood vessels relax, and the body is placed into a state of healing.
This is the opposite of a stressful, hard workout or situation where your sympathetic nervous system (SNS) brings about the exact opposite; it is preparation for flight or fight, ready to take on threat or challenge.
You can do this while meditating, slowly walking, or even lying/sitting in peace. The best method to get started is called’Box Breathing’. The length of your inhale, exhale, and pauses will all be equal, just like all four sides of a square are the same length.
I recommend starting with 1-2 second counts to get comfortable with the sensation of holding and controlling your breath. Then as it becomes more natural and autonomous feeling, you can lengthen them out to 3, 4, or even 5 seconds each.
Have a Space that is Special to You
Would you plan to bump Tupac while in a church? How about smashing a piñata and dancing during a corporate meeting? We associate spaces with actions, so trying to do breathing in spaces that you associate with chaos, alertness and other activities may not be the best environment to truly become relaxed and more mindful.
Pick somewhere in your home, office space, town, or car that can be your getaway so you can disconnect momentarily to reconnect enduringly. Remember, the magic only takes 5-10 minutes per day, so try to think of spaces that are accessible and relevant for you to go to often.
If you have tried these methods and they have helped you feel and live better, then keep it up! I am thrilled to know your life is improving from making mindful choices to aid your livelihood. Be sure to share them with friends and family who just needs a few moments to stop, think, and simply breathe!
If you are looking for customized content, training, or lifestyle tips, connect with me on social media to see what other beneficial life-enhancements you can implement today!