I like simple.
Nothing is simpler than breathing.
Nothing works better than a simple breathing exercise to make the initial shift from stressed to calm.
many people are resistant to using the breath as a way to manage their stress and energy levels through the day.
I guess simple doesn’t necessarily mean easy!
It’s not easy to break into the cycle of stress and worry. The mind prefers to keep churning, in the hope of finding a resolution.
When you are in the midst of worry, anger, fear or just overwhelm in the face of too much to do, it’s hard to convince yourself that something as simple as breathing is going to help.
Maybe you’d prefer a more complex solution? Are you conditioned, like so many people in our fast-paced world, to believe that that mental effort is the answer to all your problems?
The physiology of stress is complex but the relaxation response is triggered by the simple act of breathing. Good breathing restores the right balance of gases in the blood (primarily oxygen and carbon dioxide) and reduces anxiety.
All it takes is a few breaths! It couldn’t get much simpler than this exercise – often called the 7/11 breath.
Step 1. Lightly take your attention to your breathing. You can do this anywhere: in the car, in a meeting, whilst walking to work or as you lie in bed. Start by just noticing the in-breath and out-breath. You don’t need to change your breathing in any way: just start to quietly focus on it, noticing the rise of the chest as you breathe in and the fall as you breathe out. Step 2. After a few breaths in and out in this way, begin to pay a little more attention to the out-breath. As you breathe out, gently make the out-breath a little longer than the in-breath. Silently count the breaths as you do so. For example, count the in-breath to 7 and the out-breath to 11. The actual numbers don’t matter; just establish a rhythm that is right and comfortable for you. Don’t over-strain. If at any time you feel uncomfortable, return to normal breathing. Step 3. Continue for a few minutes as you feel a growing sense of calm. That’s all it takes! Practise regularly. For example, every time you stop at a traffic light, or put the kettle on, or you walk out of your office. You can even set a reminder in your phone every hour.
Remember the impact next time you’re in that horrible state of wound-up but achieving nothing useful.