Categories
Anxiety/Stress

Deep Breathing To Manage Stress

Sadly, we’re bombarded with multiple stress-inducing factors on a daily basis. From incessant pressure at work to responsibilities at home that never seem to end, life is hard.

That said, stressors don’t have to be small things that build up over time. They can also be one big life event that comes out of nowhere and turns your world upside down.

Whichever way stress burrows into your life, the problems of dealing with it are the same.

Luckily, one technique that’s proven to be successful at managing stress is deep breathing. This calming technique has many benefits besides lowering stress levels, such as improved blood flow and helping you sleep better.

So, keep reading to discover how deep breathing can make you healthier, stronger, and less anxious.

What Is Deep Breathing?

Deep breathing is a technique used to help you achieve inner peace and a sense of calm. The whole point of deep breathing is that it allows you to breathe through your abdomen, rather than the shallow breathing we typically do through our chest.

What abdominal breathing does is help control the nervous system by reducing the release of stress hormones. Thus, it encourages the body to calm down and relax, decreasing anxiety levels.

Consequently, this enhances your overall well-being. Deep breathing through the abdomen also prevents various illnesses and conditions, like high blood pressure, obesity, and Type-2 diabetes.

Moreover, deep breathing helps you focus more on what you’re doing. So, rather than make rash decisions, you can take your time to think things over.

How Does Deep Breathing Work?

Deep breathing allows you to boost the amount of oxygen in your bloodstream. Having more oxygen means your cardiovascular system works double time.

Then, as soon as your brain detects this substantial amount of oxygen in your system, it responds by doing several things. The first of these things is that it reduces the concentration of stress hormones. So, as a result, you calm down, and you become less stressed.

Follow these steps to perform basic deep breathing exercises:

  1. First, put your right hand on your abdomen near your navel.
  2. Next, place your left hand on the center of your chest.
  3. Some people find it helpful to close their eyes, so you can try that and see if you feel comfortable.
  4. Inhale and exhale fully a couple of times to shift from chest to abdominal, or diaphragmatic, breathing.
  5. Next, inhale deeply while focusing on the rising of the abdomen as the lungs fill with air.
  6. As you do this, it should cause your belly to expand about an inch.
  7. Then, slowly let out your breath.
  8. While exhaling, most of the movement should be in the area underneath your right hand. Your chest should only move slightly.
  9. Each time you breathe in and out, focus on how you feel.
  10. Repeat anywhere from 5–7 times.

Benefits of Deep Breathing

When you’re calm and relaxed, you breathe through your nose and take slow, even breaths. But then, something stresses us out, and our ‘fight or flight’ response kicks in.

This is when our breathing becomes more rapid and shallow to increase our oxygen supply. More oxygen means more blood rushing to our extremities, allowing us to run for cover or fight for our lives.

Yet, in today’s modern world, we neither run nor fight. Instead, we create this imbalance of oxygen and carbon dioxide that has no way of escaping, which affects our health and well-being.

Here are a few physiological benefits of controlled, deep breathing:

  • Lowered heart rate and blood pressure
  • Reduces lactic acid buildup in muscle tissue
  • Stronger immune system
  • A boost in physical energy
  • Reduced levels of stress hormones
  • A renewed blanched of oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the blood
  • Increased feelings of calm and relaxation

Deep Breathing Tips and Tricks

Here are some tips and tricks you can use the next time you’re using the deep breathing technique to help you reverse your stress responses and feel calmer.

  • The trick to going from chest breathing to abdominal breathing is those first two full exhalations.
  • Pushing out the air from the bottom of our lungs creates a vacuum that will allow you to switch to abdominal breath on your next inhalation. Next, pause for a second or two before inhaling slowly.
  • The recommended breathing is through the nose. Yet, it takes a while for some people to get used to nostril breathing. So, in the meantime, you can breathe through your mouth until you’re more comfortable.
  • Avoid taking more than five deep breaths. More than five breaths make most people feel light-headed. If this sounds familiar, take 2–3 breaths at a time to avoid feeling giddy or off-balance.
Categories
Anxiety/Stress Personal Growth

How Avoidance Actually Creates More Stress

When you have an especially difficult or stressful task on your plate, it can be very tempting to avoid completing said task. Or if you don’t like to think about a subject because of an experience, it can seem easier to just not think about that topic. Both of these situations are known as avoidance, and though it may be tempting to engage in this behavior, it causes more stress than it relieves. 

You Won’t Stop Thinking About It

If you’ve ever experienced trauma, it can be tempting to avoid all thoughts of things that may remind you of the trauma you experienced. Although this may be less painful in the short run, the truth is, long term, this will stress you out more because the thoughts of your trauma will always return until you genuinely learn to deal with them rather than avoid them. The same holds for certain physical tasks. You may put them off because you don’t want to think about them, but this will only stress you out more because you will have to keep thinking about the task instead of simply completing it now.

You’ll Run Out Of Time

When you put off a task, you may momentarily relieve your stress by telling yourself you will complete the task later. But this is worse than doing the job now because later you will experience more pressure as you are faced with a fast-approaching deadline. This is especially true if you haven’t left yourself enough time to complete the task and have to rush at the last minute. 

Avoidance Creates Conflict

Maybe a coworker is waiting for you to complete your work so they can get started on theirs. And if you didn’t leave yourself enough time before the deadline, you may cause them to be late on meeting their deadline as well. This can cause a conflict between you as your coworker may be upset that you made them late. And when you experience conflict in your relationships, this only adds to your overall stress level rather than lowering it.

Although it can be extremely tempting to avoid certain tasks or put them off, this is a flawed approach as it will only cause you more stress in the long run. This is because avoidance doesn’t solve any problems. Instead, it just creates conflict, which leads to increased stress in the future.

Categories
Anxiety/Stress Personal Growth

5 Ways To Stop Being Shy

Are you shy?

Does the thought of speaking in a group have you making up excuses?

Or are you afraid of having a conversation with a new friend?

Shyness is surprisingly very common. Survey results report that about 40 to 60 percent of all adults identify as someone shy. However, like all character traits, shyness can be overcome with the proper steps.

Identify Your Triggers

Nobody is shy all of the time. The odds are that there are situations where you feel relaxed and comfortable.

Identify what makes you shy. It can be speaking in public, asking a lady out, or simply being alone in a crowded space.

When you identify the triggers for your shyness, you can plan a course of action for when such situations arise. You will also plan on ways to overcome them.

These triggers can be especially hard to identify in most cases. It might be a smell, a location, or even a sound. However, it is crucial to do so as it is the first step to overcoming your shyness.

Be Informed

If you dread speaking to a crowd or having small talks, you can increase your odds of not turning such an experience into a social disaster when you read about the topic.

If you are shy of being at a party because you fear you’ll be the odd thumb, you could read on current happenings, watch a trending video, or research on a recent event. This way, you are well informed about an issue and can chip into discussions or start one yourself. 

If you’re shy, it’s likely to get even worse when everyone is talking about an event you are unfamiliar with. Staying up to date with events would help boost your confidence in social situations as you can engage with people and enlighten anyone who isn’t in the know.

Set Goals

While you want to be like the super confident kid who seamlessly navigates the social setting and seems to make a new friend every time they step out of their house, it’ll be more helpful if you aim a bit lower at first. 

You can begin by finding out your trigger and creating an action plan to overcome it. If you are shy when called to speak in public, you could start by addressing five of your friends and slowly increase the number until you overcome that trait. Create simple goals and work your way to the top.

Record Your Successes

It’s a good idea to keep track of the successes you’ve made in overcoming shyness and frequently read it when you feel you can’t achieve a set milestone.

Odds are that you will be surprised by how far you’ve come, which will further increase your belief that overcoming shyness is possible. Psychologists state that reading how far you have progressed is a great way to stay motivated and keep trying. 

Be Kind To Yourself And Take It Slow

You wouldn’t suddenly get rid of shyness and become super confident after a few days of practicing these steps. No one gets rid of shyness overnight. As long as you’re taking steps to become better, you should reward yourself. 

Take as long as you need to get rid of shyness, and do not try to rush yourself. Rushing the steps or beating yourself over being “slow” will only delay the process and can make you stop trying. 

In summary, shy people tend to spend a lot of time “inside their own heads,” and it is easy to distort experiences. You might assume that your shyness not only stopped you from having a good time but ruined the event for everyone else. The chances of that being true is extremely slim.

Don’t beat yourself up over it and take as long as you need to overcome it. With consistency and determination, you’ll get rid of it in no time.