Last week’s tip talked about stress and the positive side of stress. Yes, there really is one. I received responses from a number of you (always appreciate them!) and your comments inspired me to consider a mini-series on the topic of stress.
But then there was the question? where to begin part 2? Stress is such a BIG topic. A funny thing happened, and I got my answer. Decompressing one evening I picked up a Kiplinger’s magazine to peruse. My customary style of flipping through a magazine is to start in the center, work my way to the front and then center to the back. When I opened the magazine guess where I landed? An article titled, “De-Stress Your Life.” I chuckled at the timing.
Did you know that there are now “Rage” or “Anger Rooms” available for rent in cities across the US and Canada? News to me. Dressed in head to toe protective gear you can spend 5 minutes and $25, or $75 and 25 minutes, to buy the deluxe “total demolition” package. You step into a small room and with a bat or hammer you’re allowed to destroy everything in the room with the premise of de-stressing. Sounds more like channeling your inner-spoiled-brat-child? I’ll leave that discussion to the experts and we will focus on a much more basic – and stress-reducing productive place to start. Ready?
Required for living, we take air in and out of our bodies without a second thought. Now, pay attention to HOW you breathe. It is a fact that most adults breathe incorrectly by, “breathing vertically” as clinical psychologist and breathing expert Belisa Vranich calls it. Belisa teaches proper breathing to first responders, chief executives, and other stressed-out high achievers.
She explains: when we breathe vertically we breathe from the bottom of our lungs through our chest and shoulders. This uses the smallest part of our lungs, causing us to breathe faster, and in turn physically stresses the body.
The object is to shift to a horizontal breath by expanding your abdomen when you inhale. This may feel strange, especially if you’ve spent years trying to hold your stomach in to look smaller. Horizontal or belly breathing flattens your diaphragm and expands your bottom ribs, thereby pulling more oxygen into your system and taking pressure off your overworked shoulders and neck. This type of breathing will feel more natural to those who have practiced yoga as it is the breath that is taught in yoga classes. Children belly breathe, as do cats and dogs.
Willing to try a new way of breathing? A mini personal testimony…a couple of years ago, and for a period of a couple of years prior to that, I experienced chronic pain. To say that it was physically and emotionally exhausting is an understatement. Pain management docs advised cortisone shots in my spine. Uh, no thank you. Gratefully, I was referred to a highly-specialized physical therapist. Can you guess the first thing she instructed me to work on? My breath. After a couple of months of working with her I was, and remain, pain free. Call me if you want her number!
So, this next week practice moving from a vertical to a horizontal breathe and let me know your thoughts. As always, I welcome hearing them.
Reducing your stress is possible. Sometimes a reminder is in order. I’m offering unlimited, 15-minute laser focused phone calls that can help you reduce stress and increase your focus – contact me to learn more.