Hi there. Right now, just as you are, I invite you to try this 12 second exercise: Allow your eyes to close, settle into your chair a bit deeper and let yourself inhale deeply for a count of 4 and exhale slowly for a count of 8 allowing yourself to sigh on the exhale and noticing where else can you let go and relax in your body?
How was that for you? Did you notice an immediate deep feeling of relaxation? It has probably been a
while since you've done that and just really let go into a relaxed moment. Your body needs OXYGEN to release the stress in your muscles. Oxygen helps reduce stress and pain. And that was just 12 seconds!
You probably have a very busy life and not much time to take a 15 minute meditation break, and the yoga class isn't until the end of the week. But if you can even close your eyes and allow your body to breathe you deeply for this 12 second inhale and exhale, you will have brought 12 seconds of less stress and less stress hormones. That alone will bring you a teeny moment of health. Now just do that 50 times in the day! You just have to remember. Some of the ancient practices from meditation, Qigong, yoga knew this, and now Western science understands that breathing activates the parasympathetic, relaxation via the polyvagal part of our neurology🙂
We spend most of our awake moments in high alert stress states. During this state your body pushes out stress hormone such as Cortisol, your blood pressure increases, and breathing is shallow and is shunted away from many of your organs to the heart, lung and limbs in order to take flight, Then any negative emotions associated with these moments get linked together with the stress response. Before you know it, your body and mind are linked in an entrenched stress pattern. It takes a bit of practice to unhitch the wired emotions and physical state and rewire to a more peaceful state. But it is possible! Because combining BREATH with positive affirmations are a way in!
Many of you who see me for acupuncture know that I often provide a meditation, an affirmation or a mantra for you to repeat during treatment. That is because when you have the deep relaxation of acupuncture associated with a breath practice and/or affirmation the two states will eventually become "wired together" in a more positive and peaceful state, Then as soon as you invoke that practiced breath and affirmation, voila! You will be able to bring a sense of relaxation to yourself.
So here are some more hacks to decreasing stress in your life and re-wiring toward more peace and better sleep :
The Brushing Your Teeth Trick: Ok, so all day went by and you completely forgot to take your 12 second 4-8 breather. It is OK. Don't beat yourself up. Put a sticky note on your mirror and after you brush your teeth (both in the morning and evening) take a moment and do 3 rounds of the 4-8 breathing (above). Add in a simple Qi-Gong movement in which you raise your arms up in an arc above your head for the count of 4 and then slowly descend your hands down your midline for the count of 8. You can literally feel the stress and energy descend. It is beautiful. Do 3 times. (This is a closing movement in many of the Lee Holden Qi Gong videos posted on my Resource Tab)
QIGong: All of you who work with me know I prescribe Qigong. it is wonderful for stiffness and also depression and anxiety. I do it. My promise to myself is 7 mintues a day. I can do that. Usually it is more. You can find beautiful, short 20 minute, FREE, YouTube Qigong routines I recommend on the Resources Tab on my website. The morning routine will invigorate your energy for the day as well as give you an immune boost (great for Flu season not to mention you may even not need so much coffee :)) The Evening routine helps bring that upward, outward energy of the day, inward and down in a calming routine that will help you sleep better. If you have been on your feet all day, you can do these routines while seated.
Bottom line: whenever possible, BREATHE! I'm in practice with you on this. Don't worry about it. I forget all the time. AND, I'm remembering more and more to just take that moment to sit back, close my eles and breath deeply. If you are on your feet all day as I am, try to sit down for just those 12 seconds of breathing with your feet up if possible-----your kidney function from a Chinese Medicine perspective will appreciate it .
In breath and partnership