Want Less Stress?

Challenges during the Covid19 outbreak have us wondering if we would be able to have less stress. The upcoming school calendar has been an issue in the national news for weeks. Plans have been discussed, proposed, then debated further. Some plans have been revised, retracted, and finally each state is making decisions in coordination with parents, teachers and CDC guidelines to find a way to safely resume the system of educating students, either in classrooms, online or in a combination of those options.

Employment situations are also in a state of flux. Many individuals who have been working remotely from home are now facing the demands of resuming work in person while negotiating the challenges of creating a safe workspace for themselves. Finances have been uncertain, as many unemployed are facing the end of federal Covid19 relief or state sponsored unemployment benefits. Mortgages or housing rents are due, car notes and other bills remain pending.

If you have maintained your physical health in the midst of these unsteady times, the challenge remains to keep your mental health and peace of mind also!  The stress mechanism in the brain automatically increases hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) to help us combat the problems we are facing. However, chronic problems or threats to our well-being will result in an overload of these hormones, which will cause us to have symptoms of distress. Calming the mind can be as easy as breathing… an easy way to have less stress.

Simple Stress Management

A simple method of grounding yourself and staying centered is to practice a breathing exercise daily. Choose a time of day when you are most likely to keep a regular practice and routine of sitting for 15 minutes to try this exercise. Sit comfortably in a chair or in any position where you can keep your spine elongated and your diaphragm open. Set a timer.

Begin with allowing your eyes to gaze softly in front of your nose or close your eyelids. Notice the rate and quality of your breath as you inhale and exhale through your nostrils. Observe the way your diaphragm moves with each breath. See if your body can expand with each inhalation and as you exhale see if you completely empty your diaphragm of all air, as if you are bringing your navel towards your spine.

Once this is comfortable, slow the breath rate down and begin to silently count the seconds of each inhalation and exhalation. Encourage your exhalation to be longer than the inhalation. This takes practice, but it is important to be aware of lengthening the exhalation. Try to encourage a 1:2 ratio of breathing. For example, breathe in for 3 seconds and breathe out for 6 seconds. Take a slight pause at the top of the in breath and after you exhale. This is what relaxes the brain – even in the midst of very stressful times you can find less stress. After 15 minutes of the exercise, allow yourself to reflect on your state of mind and body. Notice that you will probably have more clarity and calmness to plan your day, make decisions and find solutions to some of the challenges you are facing. If you would like to have personal guidance in this process, contact me for a consultation.

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