The solution is as simple and as close as your breath.
It’s conscious breathing. By paying attention to your breath throughout the day and taking conscious, intentional breaks to breathe with purpose and in a mindful way, you change the way you experience stressors and life’s challenges, whether they be professional or personal, mental or physical.
Liking it to exercising your body daily, scheduling time to breath consciously takes commitment, time, patience and attention. Introducing conscious breathing is like introducing exercise into your life….it takes a while, through regular repetition, for you to adjust to a new behavior and to strengthen the breathing “muscle.” So, it may be necessary devise ways to make sure you begin to breathe consciously.
Schedule BreathBreaks into your day. If you have a cell phone, tablet or appointment book that you rely on to keep you on track, then schedule at least 6 times throughout the day. Just write “breathe” at 10:15am (for example) and if your phone/calendar can be set to “ring” for each appointment, then use that feature to keep you on course.
Change something up. Put your watch on the other wrist and each time you notice the watch, take a breath. Another option is move one thing around on your desk (maybe move your phone to the other side of the desk) and each time you notice the change, take a deep breath.
Meditate. Take 5 minutes a day (working yourself up to 20 minutes or more) and sit in stillness and breathe, feeling your chest and belly rise and fall, feeling stress fall away with each exhale. Make sure you create a comfortable space and that you’re dressed comfortably. Also, make sure all of your electronic devices are turned OFF (- includes land line phones). While first thing in the morning is preferable (before your mind gets cluttered with the thoughts and stresses of the day), evenings are good too. (Make sure to not be in bed as you’ll probably end up falling asleep.) Use a gentle timer (i.e., a soft beeping sound, or music) to time your meditation. 5 minutes can seem like 5 seconds or 5 hours. If you’re constantly thinking about when 5 minutes will be up, you won’t be focusing on your breath or your body.
Pay attention throughout your day. When you become aware that you’re feeling stressed, stop and take a breath. If you need to step away from a situation or leave the office/environment, do so. Identify one place in your home and/or office where you can go to get 5 minutes of quiet time. Bring your ipod with you if you’d like and listen to wordless, relaxing music and breathe in ease, feeling your body soften and relax with each exhale.
BREATHBREAKS are 60 – 90 seconds when you pause and take 3-5 conscious, deep, relaxing breaths, paying attention to the sound of each breath and the feeling that comes over your body as you let the exhale take away tensions in your body while the inhale fills your lungs with nourishing oxygen. Inhale through your nose to engage the Nitric Oxide that helps wake the body up (in a healthy way); and exhale slowly through pursed yet relaxed lips.
Take notes: Keep track of how you respond to the “waves” that come upon you throughout the day. Keep a WAVE NOTEBOOK with you and just jot down how you handled the waves as they came upon you. Were you successful—able to “ride” the wave? Were you pulled under by the wave? It may seem silly, but getting what’s in your head onto paper can be a crucial step in helping to alleviate the negative body responses….i.e., preventing you from getting pulled under by the wave.
IMPORTANT: NO JUDGEMENTS. This is a process that takes time, conscious attention and repetition. The more you follow the above steps, the better the ride! What will eventually happen is that your body will automatically breathe when it comes upon stressors, the opposite of what is happening now (not breathing at all). Your body will KNOW that it needs a breath, craves a breath, and it will breathe for you, unconsciously. This is the ultimate goal, that your body is so tuned in to your rhythms and knows when you need more oxygen…and provides it.