Finding Balance Throughout the Day – Part Two

Part two of the stress-fighting tips. My hope with this post is to share a few tips and tools to help balance day-to-day stress – but there are too many techniques to share in one post, so these basic techniques are separated into Part One and Part Two. If you missed the Part One on how to start your day off right, take a read here. Here are a few tips to incorporate into a busy schedule to find balance to the stress.

Tip 2:

Take time to breathe! Our breath is key to maintaining a calm mindset throughout the day. Have you ever notice how your breath changes when you feel stressed, anxious or excited? As the body responds to stress, the sympathetic nervous system is activated and we begin to breath in longer than we breathe out. This overused inhale actually adds to the tension we feel from the stress. The antidote to this may seem obvious, but we want to work with balancing the inhale and exhale, or even lengthening the exhale longer than the inhale. This type of breath control stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system to kick in, working to calm the body and mind.

Try one of these three techniques when you are feeling stressed:

  1.  Basic Breath Awareness

Find a comfortable seated position on the mat, on a pillow or lying down on your back. Rest your hands down to your thighs and close your eyes. Begin to notice how you are breathing here. No controlling or forcing the breath, just an awareness of how you are breathing at that moment. You can ask yourself:

“Is my breath slow, or is it moving fast?”

“Is my breath shallow or deep?”

“How do I feel the quality of the breath is right now?”

Try not to control the breath, only observe what is naturally happening.

  1.     Belly Breathing 

Stay sitting comfortably, or change to lie on your back. Rest your hands on your belly and close your eyes. Begin to notice how the belly moves with the in-breath, lifting up and expanding, and how the belly moves with the out-breath, drawing in and compressing. Keep your focus on the belly and take a 3 count inhale, and match with a 3 count exhale. Stay with this focus for 10 full breaths.

  1.     The Long Exhale

Sit comfortably and close the eyes. Rest one hand on the belly and one on the chest. Take a moment to notice how you are breathing again, check in with your starting point here. If you notice you are breathing into the chest, take a few breaths only breathing into the belly. Then begin to count the length of the inhales and exhales, noticing if either the inhale or the exhale is longer. As you feel ready, begin to lengthen the exhalation longer, and shorten the inhalation. Gradually moving the breath to a 2:1 ratio of exhale to inhale. For example if you exhale to a count of 4, then inhale to only a count of 2. Focus on a slow, smooth transition between the exhales and inhales, so that you don’t become dizzy or start gasping for more breath. Take it slow, and start with what feels natural for you.