Take a Moment to Pause: Tips on Managing Stress with Your Breath
Try and sit still, doing nothing, for the next 10 seconds… now 30 seconds… 60 seconds… How long can you be still without thinking of your endless to-do list or fidgeting around? If you can be still and clear your mind for lengths at a time — teach me your ways! Being a mother of three coming into their teenage years, running a studio, and trying to maintain some balance with work and life has me in constant motion, mind and body.
With all that I am thinking and doing, I can so easily fall into a stressed state, and you will be surprised at the number of adults and even children, who can relate to this. Because of how fast paced life has become, stress is on the rise.
Research on Stress
Research was carried out by Empathy Research on behalf of laya healthcare amongst 1,000 Irish adults aged 18+ in September 2018. The results showed 80% of adults in Ireland have been affected by anxiety, with almost half (44%) reporting that their mental wellbeing is of real concern to them.
Stress can be triggered by almost anything and everything, and what causes stress for you, may be a totally different case for someone else. Health Service Executive lists some of the common causes of over-stress on their blog as well as practical ways for you to manage feelings of stress. On their list, what stood out for me was the role of proper breathing or how important it is to breathe properly to eliminate or, at the very least, decrease the amount of stress that we feel on a daily basis.
A Brief History of the Breath
Through the years daily human activity has transformed from hunter-gatherer, active, nomadic, and mobile... to primarily stationary and hunched over a screen, and with the progress of technology, we do not see things changing anytime soon.
Studies show that this new posture we are sporting, and the act of being bent over a screen on a daily basis has actually affected the way we breathe — whether we are aware of it or not. Many, if not all of us, are actually culprits of intense concentration at the office, which can lead to something called “email apnea,” a condition where you actually stop breathing as you work.
How Breathing Affects Our Stress Levels
Breathing feels so natural to us that most of the time, we do not even realise that we are already breathing incorrectly. We so easily miss this. Science tells us that a shallow breath lowers oxygen levels in the blood, which the brain senses as stress. No wonder more and more of us are experiencing an increase in stress levels; we experience external triggers for stress, and it does not help that we are forgetting to breathe properly.
Now, let us return to where we began for this entry… Try and sit still, doing nothing, for the next 10 seconds… now 30 seconds… 60 seconds… Focus on your breath, on your posture, and where you heart and mind are at today. To help guide you, follow along with this calming breath.
Learn more about how breath practise and yoga can improve your health and well-being by joining us this weekend for a wonderful workshop learning the basics and fundamentals of yoga: The ABC of Yoga, tomorrow, from 10:00AM - 12:00PM. Take home tools to de-stress and unwind, as well as poses that can re-energise and realign you.