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
Mindset/Strenghts

5 Ways To Boost Your mental Health

Scientists tell us there are certain things we can do to improve our mental wellbeing. These techniques will help you feel more positive about yourself.

They teach you how to ride the lows and wait out the lows. Once you know that, nothing can stop you from getting what you want out of life.

Today, we’re going to share with you five ways to boost your mental health. Keep reading for more.

Connect With Others

Good relationships don’t need years to build. They can form in a matter of months, or weeks even. Plus, they don’t have to be an all-in, best-friends-for-life type of relationship.

Just talking to a neighbor or members of your church can have a great impact on your mental health. You learn to listen, empathize, and build a strong sense of self-worth and value.

Have you and a friend not seen each other in a while? Then, reach out and try to arrange a coffee date so you can get together and catch up.

How about your children or other family members? Why not try to set an hour during the day where you talk or play games?

We all know how social media has become an important part of our lives. And it’s made it easier to stay in touch with important people in our lives, especially if they live far away.

It’s good to text and chat on a regular basis. Just make sure technology isn’t replacing your face-to-face communications with people.

Learn New Skills

Learning a new skill or hobby can have a significant boost on your mental health. It’s an excellent way to meet new people and improve your self-esteem.

It’s nice to have a sense of purpose, other than your work. It means you have something to look forward to each day.

The problem, however, is many people complain they don’t have enough hours in the day. Luckily, though, technology has made learning more accessible.

Here are some of the ways you can use those high-tech gadgets you have to good use:

  • Sign up for an online course, like learning a new language or a practical skill like programming
  • Look for free video tutorials online to help you out with a DIY project
  • If you enjoy cooking, find healthy recipes and learn how to make them
  • Try a new hobby that challenges and entertains you, like painting, writing, or gardening
  • Learn to play a new sport or physical activity

Pay More Attention

We’re all guilty of not paying attention to people and things going on around us. We’re always busy with work or scrolling through our social media feed.

Learning to focus all your senses on the present moment can improve your mental well-being. It also boosts your mood and lowers stress levels. Experts call this type of focus ‘mindfulness.’

When you practice mindfulness, you enjoy the little things in life. Things like watching a bird soar overhead or taking in the nuances of nature are just two small examples.

When you’re in tune with the small details, you feel more relaxed and at peace. Plus, you start to get a better understanding of what makes you happy or anxious, which is a healthy way to approach life’s challenges.

Get Physically Active

When you do any type of physical activity, you boost your physical fitness, as well as your mental wellness. It could be a short 15-minute walk, an hour of cycling each week, or 30 minutes at the gym. You pick the activities that you enjoy and that make you feel good.

Then, once you start noticing the difference, you start to feel good about your looks. That’s when your confidence will soar through the roof.

In addition, your brain signals the nervous central system to release ‘feel-good’ hormones known as endorphins. These wonder chemicals trigger a positive response, which boosts your mood. They also reduce feelings of pain and anxiety.

Check out the following tips on how to get moving to boost your mental health:

  • Look online for free activities catered to your fitness level
  • Find local centers where you can dance, swim, or cycle
  • Try running with a ‘couch to 5K’ app or podcast
  • If you have a chronic health condition or a disability, there are many exercises and physical activities that can be customized to meet your needs

Give to Others

According to research, acts of kindness and giving are great ways to improve your mental well-being. The reason is that when we help others, our brains trigger the release of another ‘feel-good’ hormone called oxytocin.

This chemical promotes feelings of empathy and trust. It also makes us calmer, happier, and more inspired to do more.

Giving to others could be volunteering at a local shelter or helping out someone on a personal level. The point is to offer your time and energy doing something for other people. In return, you’ll feel good about yourself, knowing that you’re valued and appreciated.

Categories
Anxiety/Stress Mindset/Strenghts

Ways to Rest When You Deal with Burnout and Overwhelm

When people talk about mental health, you might assume it is only about severe stress or mental illnesses like anxiety and depression, but it can also be about your general mental state at any given time. This includes if you are overwhelmed in your life and facing burnout. 

It is just as important to rest when you have burnout as if you are dealing with a diagnosed mental health condition. Here are some tips for figuring out how to rest your mind and body.

Find Your Stressors

Before you can figure out how to get more rest when dealing with burnout, you need to first understand what is causing the overwhelm or burnout in the first place. This is in the form of your stressors or triggers.

A stressor or trigger is something that is causing you to feel more overwhelmed or anxious throughout the day. 

Is something in your life different right now?

Maybe your loved ones have been more demanding, you aren’t taking enough breaks, or work has gotten chaotic.

It can be anything from your job to your home life to the people you are around. Something as simple as falling behind on your daily journal can trigger burnout because you don’t have those few minutes to unleash all the thoughts in your head and stop obsessing over them.

Take a Break From Work if You Can

While this is not always an option, try to take a break from work in whatever form you are able to. This is of course a privilege not everyone has, but if you do, take advantage of it.

Take a mental health day where you don’t even think about work and might even get out of your house for a day. Take a long weekend or go on a short trip. 

If this isn’t an option, then try to lighten your work load. Figure out if you have any work tasks that can be delegated to other people, or if you can move your schedule around to have a few days a week that aren’t quite as hectic.

Learn How to Say No

Learning how to say no is a beautiful thing, and can benefit you in so many ways, beginning with helping you to rest from burnout. This might be personal obligations or people in your life who are always asking you for help, or work being more demanding. Burnout can happen in such subtle ways, where you think you’re just helping out a friend and don’t realize how much it is impacting your own life.

Find Ways to Practice Daily Self-Care

Self-care doesn’t need to be overly complicated or cost any money. It can be as simple as going for a walk after dinner, sitting in your office with the door closed during your lunch break, or reading a book in the evenings instead of watching TV.