Let me start by describing what stress actually is. Stress is a physical reaction and can be both good and bad. Good stress is what pushes us to achieve our goals and what motivates us to go out of our comfort zone. Bad stress though can be short-term or long-term and it’s the feeling of helplessness, loss of control.

Bad stress creates brain fog and can be counterproductive. Chronic bad stress can actually create both physical and mental health issues such as headaches, stroke, cardiovascular disease, mental and emotional breakdown, depression, poor judgment and memory problems amongst other things.

Bad stress can also be caused by incorrect breathing or superficial breathing as I tend to call it. Superficial breathing occurs when during inhale we raise our shoulders and breast and suck in the belly. During this type of breathing, we put our body in fight or flight state with our blood flow moving to our muscles so it can deal with physical danger which it assumes we are in. However, if we consider what we get stressed about most of the time, isn’t it work, relationships, finances or even when we think that we are not enough or I don’t have enough? And now we know that we also stress our body as a result of improper breathing. In these situations we do not need our muscles, we need our brains. Would you agree?

When we breathe superficially, our lungs do not get filled with oxygen as we take small and frequent breaths which can shorten our life in the long run.

The proper way of breathing is into the belly. When you inhale, your belly should expand and when you exhale it should shrink. 

Put one of your hands on the belly and take three deep breaths from the belly. Notice how you feel.

This way you send a signal to your brain that all is good, you are in ‘relax and digest’ state and thus blood flow can be re-directed back to where it needs to go in order to perform important functions in your bodies.

I remember before I knew about this, whenever I got stressed, I would instinctively, lay down on the floor because that was the only thing that would make me feel better. Whenever you lay on your back, and you can check this when you go to bed tonight, you automatically start breathing into your belly and as a result, you relax and feel better.

The first time I learned about this, I put three reminders on my phone. So every day in the morning, early afternoon and evening my phone would remind me to breathe into the belly. After a while, I didn’t need the reminders because I was automatically bringing my awareness on how I was breathing. I may be with friends, in a meeting, walking, cooking and I will always check how my breath is doing.

Since then I have become much calmer and my attention span increased, it was easier for me to focus compared to when I did not know all of these.

I highly recommend you do the same. Such a small change in our life can make a whole lot of difference in so many aspects of your life.

There are different ways/techniques on how you can breathe to relax and they are abundant on the internet but this one technique has helped me the most as it fits nicely with my busy lifestyle.

Hopefully, this simple tip helps you as much as it has helped me!

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Christina is a supportive mentor and a wellness authority who works with clients to help them feel their best through...

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