Breathing and releasing stress

Can you believe that January is at a close. My kids started school last week and we are now getting back into the routine of up at a certain time, get ready and out the door by…. Oh I do love school holidays – no routines.

The lead up to school returning has been full on, both personally and professionally. Getting all that we needed for the kids to return to school, Jannine coming home for a flying visit during Australia Day (she has now returned to Adelaide for the next 2 months), finishing off the spring cleaning I had started, which will result in a garage sale in the next few weeks, receiving news I had been nominated for 3 awards with Women With Altitude, starting to video “how to video’s” for the different raw recipes, continuing studying with IIN and getting back into the clinic, seeing clients. It has felt a bit like someone has increased the speed on the treadmill I am on and I was not expecting it.

Stress, overwhelemd worriedI have started to notice what my signs are that I am on that treadmill –  my mind starts to run (my to do list, worries and thoughts that just keep circling) or I have been extra short with the kids or my sleeping has suffered as I try to fit all of ‘it’ into the day. I’ve over committed to the day and then feel anxious and annoyed that I have not completed everything and disappointed that I’m cranky. What has happened? I’ve stopped nourishing myself – taking the time to stop, breathe and connect with me. What are some of the things that I normally do to nourish myself:

  • be present while I eat a meal
  • sit and have a cup of tea and do nothing else
  • take a few moments to breath
  • get into the bush for a bush walk – being in nature

Young woman enjoying fresh air in autumn, intentionally toned.I remind clients to take time our for themselves – to nourish themselves. It doesn’t have to take the form of hours out of your day, just a few minutes here and there and the benefits are compounding. Over the last few weeks I have once again fallen into the busyness – go, go, go and do, do, do achieving mentality – “I don’t have time for me” or “I’ll take some time for me later today or tomorrow”. Does that happen? Not usually. So I spiral down feeling more and more out of control. Does this sound familiar? One thing I do know for sure is that as I become ‘busier’ my breathing changes. I’ve noticed that when I am feeling out of control, either completely or in the task I have set myself to do, then my breathing is quite shallow. I’ve also noticed on the days when I feel that I have all the time in the world and surprised at how much I have actually accomplished, my breathing has been slow, deep and regular. With this observation, I have been using my breath to help slow me down and put me back into the drivers seat. The fantastic thing about focusing on your breath is, that you can do it anywhere and at anytime. Here is a little breathing exercise that can bring you back to being present and can reset the ‘I’m feeling out of control’ button.

Sit comfortably in a chair with your feet flat on the floor, your hands in your lap and your back straight. Close your eyes and notice your breathing. Connect with your breath as you breathe in and then breathe out. Continue to breathe in and out for a couple of breath cycles. Now I want you to breathe in for the count of 4, hold, breathe our for the count of 4, hold and continue again. The image I have while breathing, is an oval – up one side, over the top, down the other side, under the bottom and back up. Remember to breathe from your diaphragm (the base of your lungs – your belly will expand and decrease, like the way babies breathe).

I’m also practising the 4-7-8 Breathing Exercising which I learnt about in one of my subjects at Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN). In the subject, Dr Weil explains the benefit of breathing and how it is the link between the conscious and unconscious mind and is the key to changing the function of the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system regulates the bodily functions such as heart beat, breathing and digestion and is the control system behind our fight or flight response. Dr Weil also believes that improper breathing is the root of many of the health problems that we experience today. With this knowledge you can begin to see how important your breathing is. To find out more about 4-7-8 Breath.

Have you used breath work before to help reconnect with yourself? Have you noticed a difference in the way you breathe when you are stressed compared to when you are relaxed? I would love to hear about your experiences with breathing.

In good health, Vicki

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