With the start of a new, online school year, the global pandemic, and political instability raging around us, 2020 has certainly been a stressful, action-packed year (as the memes have so succinctly stated). Sometimes it can feel overwhelming – how am I supposed to balance my schoolwork (I can’t physically concentrate on a glassy Zoom meeting for 4.5 hours a day without snacks and group chats) with difficult situations that are going on inside and outside of the home?
Breath-Body-Mind is technique developed by Dr. Richard Brown and Dr. Patricia Gerbarg designed to help you manage stress in a holistic, natural manner – perfectly integrating your body and your mind by using breathing techniques. mYe is hosting a BBM workshop with Dr. Richard Brown, and you can find out more on our website! For now, we’ll go over different stress management techniques and how BBM’s hallmark techniques align with science.
What is stress?
You’ve probably experienced tense muscles, a pounding heart, and rapid breathing before. These are common symptoms associated with stress, something people have to cope with every day. Whether it’s the night before a big test or interview, acute stress can be helpful in keeping us on our toes and active, but long-term stress can have serious effects on your health.
Your stress response is activated by the production of adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol by the adrenal glands, which are small organs that sit right on top of your kidneys. Long-term release of these hormones can cause your immune system’s ability to protect you to decrease, affect your sleep cycles, and increase the rate of muscle loss.
You may also experience stomachaches when stress is diverting blood away from the digestive system, putting it on pause. You’re unable to digest your food, and it usually shows up as nausea, cramping, constipation, or diarrhea. It can also affect your eating habits, pushing you toward unhealthy comfort foods or alcohol. Chronic acid reflux can also lead to ulcers and scarring.
Stress can raise your blood pressure, which can create the perfect conditions for a heart attack or stroke. Your blood vessels can also get inflamed, which is another cause of heart attacks. Your breathing is usually harder and faster, which makes it difficult to get oxygen in your lungs.
How to De-stress – Breathe!
When you’re relaxed, your breathing is considerably slower and more shallow. By replicating this breathing pattern, you can trick your body into thinking you’re relaxed and your bloody pressure, heart rate, and natural breathing rate will subsequently decrease. Breathing is one of the only things that you can unconsciously and consciously control, and by taking over and assertively doing breathing exercises, you can take control over your body’s stress response. This is what makes BBM so effective.
There are several breathing techniques, the first of which is belly breathing.
- Sit down or lie down – whatever makes you most comfortable.
- Put a hand on your stomach and take a deep breath through your nose, feeling your stomach rise. Your chest should stay still.
- Slowly exhale through the mouth and feel your hand move down again, using it to push all the air out.
- Repeat this process 3-10 more times.
- Try to really clear your mind and notice you the exercise makes you feel.
- This is slightly more advanced than belly breathing, and implements “upper lung” breathing – basically, your chest should also move up and down during this exercise.
- Sit down or lie down on your back – whichever one is most comfortable.
- Put one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest.
- Breathe in through your nose so that only your stomach moves up and down, and exhale slowly through the mouth. Repeat this step 8-10 times.
- Next, partially breathe in so that your stomach moves, then fill the “upper lung” with the rest of that breath.
- The lifting of your stomach and chest should form a rolling motion.
- Practice breathing for 3-5 minutes. Notice how you feel at the end of the exercise!
- Beginners may feel lightheaded or dizzy the first time they try this. If you start to feel this way, slow your breathing and get up slowly.
- Close your eyes
- Take several deep breaths.
- As you breathe in, imagine peace and calm around you. Try to physically feel it.
- When you breathe out, imagine that stress and tension are leaving your body.
- As you’re breathing in, focus a phrase in your mind (e.g. “I will stay peaceful and calm.)
- As you breathe out, focus on a similar phrase in your mind (e.g. “I am letting go of stress and anxiety.”)
- Continue breathing for 10-20 minutes, or as long as necessary.
Other Stress-Management Techniques
Other than breathing management, there are many other ways you can maintain a more relaxing lifestyle. Read this list of tips from WebMD!
- Be positive.
- When things are out of your control, accept them and try to find the positives.
- Exercise! Your body needs it to stay positive.
- If you eat healthy and act healthy, you will be mentally healthy as well.
- Time management is so important – rushed deadlines and procrastination is a major source of stress!
- Leave time for hobbies and interests!
- Lastly, sleep! Your body needs a break so it, and you, can keep chugging along.
I hope you learned something from this article. Have a great day, friend 🙂