Sometimes we need little reminders in life. Reminders to guide us back on track when we’ve got caught up in the day-to-day aspects of life. When we’re feeling stressed, things which can remind us to stop and take a big deep breath, to bring us into the present moment.
Stress is often brought about by our projections, worries or fears for the future, or something we have held onto from the past. It can lead to feeling overloaded, overwhelmed, tense and worried. Stress isn’t all bad and it can have benefits. It can help us get a task done, or meet a deadline. However, if out of balance, it can also have a detrimental effect on our health and wellbeing.
When we’re stressed, we typically breathe faster, shallower breaths from higher up in the chest. Whereas our natural innate way of breathing is deep from the belly, the way a newborn baby breathes. If this way of breathing becomes an entrenched pattern it can then become a bit of a chicken and egg scenario – which came first – the breathing contributing to the stressed feeling, or the stress further reinforcing that way of breathing?
One of my ‘gentle reminders’ to breathe deeply and practice mindfulness is wearing a mala bead bracelet. It’s my trigger when I feel it or see it on my wrist to check in with myself. Am I breathing deeply and taking full deep belly breaths? Am I practicing mindfulness and remaining in the moment or thinking of my ‘to do list’, not being present in the right here and now? I definitely can’t say it’s a cure all and I have the Zen of a Buddhist monk 24/7, however I have noticed that having a gentle reminder to check in has made a big difference.
Physical triggers which can serve as reminders to stop and check in on our breath:
- Clenching or grinding of the teeth
- Feeling irritable, grumpy or short tempered
- Tension and stiffness across the shoulders and neck
- Ideally we can check in and use the breath to help restore peace and calm before stress manifests itself physically.
Here are some things which can serve as gentle reminders to breathe deeply from the belly:
- Pop a sign on the fridge
- Check in when you are stopped at the traffic lights
- Before going to bed at night
- At the start of each day
- If doing a long stretch on the computer, set an alarm on your phone to pause and check in on your breathing
- On your screen saver
- Post-it notes on your computer, phone or bathroom mirror.
I’ll be sharing more on future blogs about different breathing techniques which can be used, plus other handy tips.
Wishing you peace.