Have you noticed whenever you ask someone how they’ve been most people’s response is ‘OH, SO BUSY’…I know mine usually is.
It’s true to say that this year has been one of the busiest I’ve had…work, becoming a self-employed PT, trying to network as much as possible to grow my business, taking part in a theatre production over summer, training as a yoga teacher, learning to drive and all the while making sure I have time to spend with my family, friends and boyfriend.
I LOVE having lots of things to do and being busy, but on the flip side I can find it hard to unwind sometimes…I feel guilty if I’m being ‘unproductive‘, if I have ‘nothing to do’. Why is that!? It’s so strange and yet I’ve spoken to multiple people who have said they feel the exact same.
Stress can manifest itself in so many different ways; from muscle tension, headaches and sleepless nights to weight gain, severe IBS and panic attacks. I know I have experienced a handful of these and they are not pleasant. So, I’ve decided to start a series of blog/ Instagram posts and newsletters focusing on ways to de-stress, sharing tips and tricks I use in my personal life that I find really help me (I’m also working on a little event for next year so watch this space).
For the first of my #cooltobecalm posts, I want to talk about breathing…
Over the past year in particular, I’ve realised how important it is to take time to tune into the breath. From pleasant experiences such as practising yoga and singing, to not so pleasant experiences such as having anxiety and panic attacks, I’ve become much more aware of how we breathe can have such a significant impact on both the body and mind.
Our breath, or ‘prana’ (literally meaning ‘life force’ in Yogic terms) is the only thing that remains constant throughout our entire lives; it’s the first thing we do when we are born, and the last thing we do when we die.
It therefore makes sense that we take time out from our busy schedules to notice it once in a while.
5 Breathing Techniques for Stress Relief:
1. Count to 10
This is great to help you focus during meditation.
Count each inhale/exhale until you reach 10 then begin again from 1.
If your mind gets distracted (which it inevitably will), start back at 1.
2. Extended Exhales
When our body is in a relaxed state, our exhalation is naturally longer than the inhalation. The aim of this exercise is to ease our body and mind into relaxation. Focus on making the exhalation longer than the inhalation, for example by breathing in for a count of 5, breathing out for a count of 7.
3. Square Breathing
Inhale for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4, exhale for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4. Repeat this for as many rounds as you wish. Sometimes it helps to visualise moving along the edges of a square as you breathe.
4. Rib Breathing
Place your palms on either side of ribs so that your middle fingers are lightly touching at the the centre. Notice the expansion of the ribs as you inhale and how this separates the fingers. Then notice the contraction of ribs as you exhale and how the fingers retouch.
Use your imagination to help focus on the breath. For example, picturing waves moving up and down a shoreline or a feather rising and falling.