The Stress WMD!

Hi folks!

Over the past several posts I have offered you all different ways of combating stress with different relaxation techniques. As the final post in this series (I hope you all have found something that works for you!) you may wonder which technique is the best. To be honest, they all have their merits and I recommend that you use all of them.

To me I consider the techniques to be individual parcels of a bigger “Stress Buster” package. Individually the different techniques provide beneficial affect in helping you alleviate and reduce stress, but as you use the techniques together the affect is tremendous! Just think of a Weapon of Mass Destruction blowing away stress!

How does the WMD work? It works by you employing all the techniques daily as you combat the stress you face. During the day do a body scan when you feel yourself getting tense. Stop and do deep breathing and visualise the stress melting away. When you have a break throughout the day, you can do some subtle progressive relaxation and deep breathing. At the end of the day you can take 20-30 minutes out of your schedule and do some meditation and/or visualisation exercises.

When you use the techniques in combination you will maximise the benefit that they have. Just think of it as a “Stress Buster Synergy” – the effect of the whole is greater than the individual parts.  Remember that it is important for you to do this daily. In a month, stop and take stock of the stress level(s) in your life and you will be surprised at how much more relaxed, calm and at peace you are.

Breathe…Relax!!

Hi everyone!

Welcome to the latest installment of my series on how to identify and overcome stress. In my previous post I discussed a technique that you can use to identify any areas of tension in your body. Now that you know how to find where you are tense it is time to learn how to relax! 

Notice how this post is titled “Breathe…Relax!” and not the other way around? (Relax..Breathe!) That is because breathing helps our bodies to relax. When it comes to breathing there is a “good” breathing and a “not so good” breathing (I was going to say “bad”, but at least you are still breathing!). There are two ways in which we breathe: diaphragmatic breathing and chest breathing. Diaphragmatic breathing is the “good” breathing. When we do this kind of breathing we are in inhaling deep into our lungs, oxygen is then taken into our blood system and carbon dioxide exhaled. Whilst sleeping, it is diaphragmatic breathing that we are doing. It is deep, slow breathing which assists our bodies to relax. 

Chest breathing is the “not so good” breathing. It is shallow and does not utilise the full capacity of our lungs. You may not even know that you breathe into your chest only! This type of breathing can lead to hyperventilation. Anxiety and panic attacks can result in chest breathing. 

So, how do you know whether you are breathing from your diaphragm or your chest? (Take comfort all you chest breathers, you can learn how to become a diaphragmatic breather by doing the exercise I include later in this post.) To determine whether you breath from your chest or your diaphragm, do the following exercise:

  1. Lie on you back on the floor. Place one hand on your abdomen (just above your waist) and place your other hand on your chest.
  2. Take a few breaths and notice whether your chest rises and drops with your breathing. Or was it your abdomen that rose and dropped as you breathed?

If you noticed mainly your chest rising and falling in this exercise, then your are a “chest breather.” If it was your abdomen that rose and fell, then you are a “diaphragmatic breather.” 

Diaphragmatic breathing allows our bodies to relax. It removes tension in our muscles. If you have determined, from the above exercise, that you are a “chest breather” you can become a “diaphragmatic breather” by doing this exercise. Also, for all of you who have found out that you breath from your diaphragm, there is no reason why you can not do this exercise too! 

  1. Take a long, deep breath through your nostrils. Feel the air entering deep into your lungs. Feel your lungs expanding to their full capacity. Focus on the air entering your lungs. How does it feel as you inhale? Can you feel the air descending into your lungs? What sensations do you feel as you breath in. Become aware of these. Explore the sensations. 
  2. Hold your breath for a couple of seconds.
  3. Exhale through your mouth. How does the air feel as it leaves your body? Can you feel your lungs? What sensations are there as you breath out?
  4. Repeat this exercise for about 5 minutes. Inhale through your nostrils and exhale through your mouth. Focus on your breath. 

What you are doing is taking full advantage of your lungs and allowing a maximum flow of oxygen into your body. You will be amazed at how relaxed you will feel! It is also important to focus on your breath. Why? Because any thoughts that had that caused the tension can not be entertained whilst your mind is focused solely on your breath.  

It may take a bit of practice until you are proficient at “diaphragmatic breathing”. Whenever you feel yourself tense up (such times are when we are susceptible to “chest breathing”), stop, breath and relax! 

 

 

Breathe!!

Hi folks!

Today is time for something practical! Are you excited? I bet you are!!!

Admit it. You have had a day when everything seems to be going wrong! You feel all stressed, your body is tense. You just want to relax. Here is an exercise that you can do that will help remove the tension and even will calm down your racing mind. (It takes about 3-5 minutes)

  • Find somewhere quite where you can be alone.
  • Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Hold it, and then slowly release it. Take another deep breath, hold it and release  it. Keep doing this for the duration of this exercise.
  • Focus on the different parts of your body. Start with your feet, imagine them relaxing, then your calfs, your shins, your upper legs. Both legs together. Imagine them relaxing, feel the tension melt away as you breath in and then breath out. Carry on up your body and then finally focus on your body, as a whole, relaxing. Focus all your attention on your body relaxing. Imagine it is relaxed, limp and quite.
  • Finally end the exercise with several more in breaths and out breaths.

You can do the breathing aspect of this exercise whenever you feel yourself getting stressed or becoming irritated. It also works if you are feeling nervous or anxious. Just focus all your attention on the breath entering in, then focus on the breath leaving your body.

I use this exercise all the time. When I feel myself getting stressed or wound up,  I make a conscious effort to focus on my breathing. Then I can feel myself calming down and my body losing tension.

Give it a go and feel free to leave comments to let me know how it has worked for you. I would love to hear!