Reduce The Effects Of Stress With Just A Breath

You can reduce the effects of stress in your life by simply taking a breath.

Sometimes life just seems to be about stress, from the moment you wake until you collapse into bed. I won’t insult you by telling you that you can completely get rid of it. Life is about challenge, competition, and struggle. That’s the truth of it.

I’ve realized just how poorly I handled the stress in my previous life as an executive; but I have a few tricks now.

Controlling stress is a key element in regulating your moods and relationships with people around you, improving your immune system, and helping you live a more prosperous and longer life. Long term stress will lead to things like illness, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and social disorders.

Diet and exercise will go a long way to help control the cumulative effects of stressful living, but you can reduce the effects of stress on your physical and mental health, and improve your performance in almost every part of your life by simply learning to focus and breathe.

Try this technique:

Find a quiet place. You’re trying to trim down the sensory input and concentrate your attention, so the fewer ambient noises, and distractions the better.

Get comfortable. I most prefer to lay down, but you can do it sitting or standing as long as you’re in a position that feels relaxing.

Take one deep, deep breath through your mouth, try to engage your diaphragm and force yourself to yawn; then let it out quickly, all of it. Hold it a second or two, and then begin your first cycle of breathing through your diaphragm. Every breath from this point will be the same. Breath in through your nose at a slow steady pace, attempting to make your breath-in extend for 5-8 seconds, and with a sense that you are filling and expanding your lower stomach first. As you reach the point of total expansion of your lungs, hold the breath, and count in your head to 5. Now slowly start to release the air from your lungs through your mouth, controlling the flow and pausing several times. I take up to 30 seconds to finish the exhale, and purse my lips to create a mild whistling sound, as it gives me something audible to focus on. Sounds are good to help you focus your attention away from all the thoughts pouring through your head..

As you continue the breathing technique, your attention will be drawn more inward, first to the pace and timing of your breaths and then to the sounds of inhaling and exhaling; this enhances sensory exclusion, slows your heart rate, and quiets your mind. All you’re really trying to do at this point, is turn down the volume of activity in your head.

During your workday, you may need only 4-5 breaths to completely quiet your mind, or focus on a specific target thought. It might only take a few minutes to achieve a state of mind that improves your performance and helps you maintain a healthier balance. A few times a day, and maybe a slightly longer session during a lunch break could completely change your life and your performance in your career.

  • I want to give a shout out to my dear friend, Soli, owner and instructor at Hot or Not Yoga Albuquerque, for the inspiration for this post.

Please tell us what you think. We want to know!