The Third Way to Manage Stress: Find Your Breath
We breathe all day, every day, but never really take the time to think about it. Spend a moment now breathing deeply and make note of your body’s reaction.
Taking a few deep breaths should be your immediate reaction to stress, anxiety, anger, or worry in your day-to-day life. In those moments, taking the time to step away briefly and breathe can be highly beneficial when you’re ready to return to the situation and resolve the issues you’re facing.
Many of us are in stress mode all day and never give ourselves the chance to slow down and breathe. If you’re looking in the mirror and trying to breathe properly, it should look like your stomach is blowing up into a balloon, rather than your shoulders are lifting up towards your ears. Keep your shoulders relaxed and neutral. Instead, expand and contract your stomach as you breathe deeply.
This style of breathing works your diaphragm properly. It’s also the way that musicians breathe in order to effectively support the dynamics of their song. This strategy is so important to implement because it can offer immediate stress relief!
Yoga is also an incredible way to learn about breathing! I used to be against yoga, because I thought it would be boring. But once I found the right yoga studio for me, I discovered how much I loved it, and now my body needs yoga. Sometimes the things we don’t want to do are actually things we need the most. For me, that was yoga.
Yogis call yoga a “practice” because it really does takes time to master, and you won’t be amazing at it on your first attempt. I try to attend one yoga class per week, but the breathing part of the class is still one of my greatest challenges. It’s not the moves I struggle with, but making sure I’m not always holding my breath and keeping all the tension in is challenging.
The bottom line is that breathing will help to alleviate your stress! Your main goal should be to find easy ways to manage stress, because it’s not just going to stop being a part of your life. Instead of wishing stress away, you need to become more resilient to it, and find ways to cope with it. If you find positive outlets for stress, I believe you’ll be less likely to make decisions that will harm you in the long run.
I used to look to food as a source of stress relief--something that would make me feel good immediately. I also used to have wine every night after the salon closed. I was at the salon all day working like a crazy person, and I’d be so busy that I wouldn’t eat much throughout the day. Then I would go home and drink about a bottle of wine every night to relax and unwind from the day. That type of habit didn’t set me up for long term success. Yes, it was instant gratification, but those negative choices will eventually catch up with you. If you have positive outlets instead for when you’re stressed, tired, or anxious, you’re setting yourself up for much greater success!
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