Starting Your Day

Have you read the quick and easy tip to reduce stress? If you missed it, go back to December 1st and read it. It’s a quickie and won’t take more than three minutes.

Here is another great way to use your deep breathing. Before you start your day try this:

Close your eyes, focus on  your breath, and set an intention for the day, e.g. stay calm, be more patient, focus, […] fill in the blank.

I find it a great way to remind myself of something that I know will help me go through my day. If I have a difficult conversation ahead, I remind myself that I need to listen and not assume. If I have a day packed with things I have to do, I may remind myself to stay calm and keep a clear head. If I have a project to launch, I may remind myself to stay focused. Whatever it may be. More often than not, my “intention” pops into my head when I start to lose track and need that little reminder.

Give it a go. I’m sure it’ll help you manage your daily challenges better as well.

Less Stress With Three Deep Breaths

I believe we could all benefit from a little less stress. That’s why I’ll kick off my “Advent Calendar” with a simple but effective tip: take three deep breaths.

It is one of the simplest, but at the same time the most underutilized technique to release stress: deep breathing. Not the shallow kind of breathing that often goes hand-in-hand with stressful situations. There is a huge difference. I mean the kind of breathing that is fundamental in practices like Yoga or martial arts. It’s also taught in public speaking classes to reduce stage fright.

Despite being mentioned so frequently, we tend to forget about deep breathing the moment we need it the most, e.g. when we are stressed, anxious, angry, upset, […] fill in the blank.

That’s why I chose it as a starting point, reminding you that no matter where you are, what you do, or what has happened, you can always stop for a minute and take a couple of deep breaths. They’ll ease the tension in your body, clear your head, give you time to calm down, and respond in a more grounded way.

How to do it:

You can do it sitting or standing or even lying down. But let’s assume for now that we are standing somewhere or sitting somewhere.

If you sit, put your feet on the ground, if you stand, stand with your feet hip-width apart. If closing your eyes helps you focus, do so if it is safe.

Now, slowly inhale and count to five, hold your breath for a second, then exhale and count to five. Repeat for at least three times.

Alternatively, slowly inhale, feeling the air travelling to your lungs, filling your lungs, and allowing your belly to rise. Take a moment, then slowly exhale, feeling the air leave your lungs and your body, allowing your belly to fall.

As long as it is safe, you can place your hands on your belly to feel the rise and fall with each breath. Repeat for at least three times.

Simple, isn’t it? Try it and see what happens.