One simple tip to manage stress

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It’s 6 a.m., your alarm goes off and you hit snooze. As you lay in bed half asleep, you’re thinking about how crappy your sleep was. Right before you went to bed your mind was racing. Did I email Janice that attachment? How do I talk to Larry about his performance issues? I need to find a new dog groomer. Crap, I forgot to do that e-transfer…and the list goes on!

Now it’s 6 a.m. and those same thoughts along with countless new ones are back. Unfortunately, the racing mind is a sure way to increase stress and anxiety.  In some cases, the never-ending list begins to overwhelm and paralyze us. We spend more time making mental lists and anguishing over what needs to be done instead of actually getting things done.

This stress manifests itself in different ways. We become snappy, angry and rude and as the day passes we feel like things just get worse.

If your morning started out a little stressful, you’re reading this and going - when does she tell me what I should do about it? Let’s get to the point. Ha! Am I right?

Well, for starters, remember that things won’t improve if we let our thoughts control our mind. To start doing this, we need to calm our minds down. And one simple way to calm your mind - breathe…

Now I realize you’re breathing or you wouldn’t be reading this post but what I’m referring to is ‘focused breathing.’ One simple technique I like to use is “Sama Vritti” breathing. Sama = same, equal. Vritti = fluctuation (both of breath and of mind.

Here’s how to practice Sama Vritti breathing:

  1. Find some privacy. It doesn’t matter if you’re in your bed, your office or outside an office building but having some level of privacy always helps.
  2. Close your eyes and get comfortable. Place both palms (face down) on your thighs.
  3. Take a deep breath, inhaling through your nose and counting to four as you inhale. Let the air enter your belly, not just your lungs. Notice your stomach expand.
  4. With your eyes closed, exhale to a count of four and let the air slowly escape out of your belly, through your throat and then your nose.
  5. As you breathe, become aware of your breath. With your eyes closed, observe the sensation of air entering your nose and leaving through your belly. The awareness and counting is key. When you count, you stay focused on every breath and the count, instead of distractions. If a thought comes to mind, acknowledge that you were distracted and go back to counting as you breathe.
  6. Continue this pattern of breathing for four to seven minutes.

After a few weeks of doing this, you can increase the count to 6 or 8, and also increase the duration of this exercise.

Try practicing this as soon as you start your day and right before you jump into bed. You’ll be amazed at how powerful something as simple as breathing can be. This technique will also calm you nervous system and help you become more focused. 

Stay calm and breathe on. Scratch that. Stay breathing and calm on.