I get overwhelmed. I get stressed. I have a massive to-do-list and don’t know where to start most days. I am sure you have days like that or maybe weeks. We could blame bad planning or even hormones, but still, these days happen. Meditation is lovely. It definitely helps to have a regular practise. However, there are these times during the day where you just want to scream. Or maybe you do scream, and maybe at someone else.
At the beginning of this year, I listened to a podcast by Brendon Burchard. He explains that to keep our energy high throughout the day, we need to take regular breaks every 45 to 60 minutes or when we transition between tasks, whichever comes first. When changing between tasks our mind continues to mull over the old effort and we are expending an un-necessary amount of energy to transfer to the new project. That is one of the reasons why multi-tasking doesn’t work. Some research says that we need up to 20 minutes to arrive in the new state of mind when transferring between tasks.
A transition between tasks can be for instance when you leave the house to get on the bus to go to work. You transition from home to public and then to work.
When doing the exercise below we are letting go of whatever we have just done and focus on the new. It is like a mini-meditation.
Just imagine yourself sitting on a desk for three hours straight, you are not going to be as energised or focussed as you were at the beginning of that task. You are sitting bend forward, shoulders up to your ears, your whole body rounding and tensing, and brain fog has probably set in long ago. The same thing happens after a meeting, during physical work, studying, driving a bus. A few minutes of deep breathing, moving and re-energising can keep your energy levels high for longer.
Set yourself a reminder every hour and do this little
1) Get up and about. Change the scene. Grab some water. Go to the toilet. Do some yoga. Or just stand up from your desk and look into the distance.
2) Do some deep breathing. Fill your lungs with air. Long deep smooth breath in and then a long deep smooth breath out. Repeat that for a minute or so.
3) Then start saying the word ‘Release’ over and over again, silently to yourself.
4) After you have done that for a minute or so, set yourself an intention. An intention of how you want to feel like for the next hour or task.
5) Then continue with your new task.
Below you can find a recording of the relaxation I sometimes finish my yoga classes with. My regular students find it very relaxing and have mentioned they would like to have a recording of it. For instance, the recorded relaxation could help you (or your loved ones) to get to sleep. And remember rest is almost as good as sleep. If you are waking up during the night, instead of worrying about being tired the next day, a big meeting or similar, you could listen to this relaxation instead. At least you will find some rest.
So here it is! If you have any comments or suggestions please let me know. You can reach me under my email address firstname.lastname@example.org
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Stress is attributed to most GP visits and can be associated with the biggest health problems we face these days. Starting with cardiac diseases but also mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.
How do we get stressed?
In his book Why Zebra’s Don’t Get Ulcers Robert M. Sapolsky explains why we get frazzled by small things and animals seem to be able to brush off the anxieties of being hunted all day every day. Of course, zebras can get stressed, they are a prime target of crocodiles, hyenas, and leopards after all. Animals react with the fight, flight or freeze response when stressed and when the incident is over they move on and forget about it.
However, as humans, we can keep a stressful experience alive purely as a function of our minds. Our bodies can’t determine whether a threat is real or whether we are creating an incident in our minds. By repeating worrying stories to ourselves we can create a panic response, which creates a downward spiral and we can end up for instance with digestive issues, sleep problems, or depression.
How can you tackle stress?
Mindfulness and yoga can help with reducing stress and associated problems. For instance, slow and deep breathing tells your body that the stressful situation has passed and that it’s time to relax. How often do you actually relax during the day? There is usually something going on. Our work is stressful, family life can be frantic, and usually, we fill every minute of our days with something to do, like our phones or television. By merely being still and breathing deeply and slowly five times, we can change your bodies perception of your environment and calm you down.
I find breathing techniques one of the most important tools in yoga. In my classes, I teach the three-part yogic breath which takes advantage of the full capacity of the lungs. This involves breathing into your belly, chest, and ribs. Filling all parts of your lungs with air and breathing out from your ribs, chest, and belly. Doing this regularly can make breathing fully a habit.
I am starting a new 4-week course on Wednesday 21st November 2018 called Gentle Yoga for Stressful Lifes where we will learn how to breathe fully and gently release tension.