At some point when I was in college, there was a shift about how best to honor Lent. Up until that time, it had always been about giving up something you enjoyed, a sacrifice. But then something changed, and instead of abstaining from something we enjoyed, we would do something to make a positive difference – whether in our own lives, or someone else’s over that time.
In coaching, my athletes and I have far more success when we focus on what we should be doing, versus what we should not. As a case in point, back when Kashi cereal was all the rage, it was easier to suggest someone have that for breakfast, than it was to convince them they had to give up their nightly scotch/wine/vodka/gin, etc. What happened was always a surprise. They found that by slowly adding in a new habit over a period of time, the “vices” slowly slipped away and they didn’t miss them anymore. In Kashi’s case, as athletes started to lose paunches, have fewer sugar spikes, and slept better, they started to look forward to their morning exercise and didn’t feel the need for that nightly wind-down drink during the week. Now I can’t say that Kashi is your answer, but there is something else that probably is: controlled breathing.
Controlled breathing is incredibly powerful, the science is irrefutable, and it’s something you’re already sort of doing that can make your 2018 so much better. The trick? You have to pay attention to it. Controlled breathing has been proven so many ways to improve quality of life. Think about it, take five minutes a day for one month and focus on your breathing. If you’re a recovering Type A like me, then you’ll want to set a timer so you can keep half an eye on the count down (timers are really important to help you chill if you have anxiety). While you may take a few weeks to start to feel the effects, many report an immediate feeling of calm and control.
So why isn’t everyone doing it? Well, we are so rushed in our lives that many feel it’s either silly, or they feel that it won’t work for them. What’s crazy? Even if you don’t believe it will work, it works! There are a lot of opinions about the optimal timing of the inhalation and exhalation, and whether or not to hold the breath between, but let’s keep this really simple for now, shall we?
Here’s what to do:
- If you can, lie down on your back.Reclining your car seat also works, as long as you can find somewhere safe and quiet. You can also try noise-canceling headphones while traveling.
- Close your eyes and put your hands on your stomach to the sides and just below your belly button. Breathe in for a count of 4 seconds, and focus on pushing out your hands with your belly. Then, breathe out for a count of 4 seconds.
- Your goal is 10 total breaths.
Commit to performing this one small thing every day for January, and feel better, calmer, more relaxed less stressed, less tense, and maybe even a little bit happier.
For more of the benefits and some ideas around Controlled Breathing, check out this article in the New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/09/well/mind/breathe-exhale-repeat-the-benefits-of-controlled-breathing.html
If you’re ready to try 3’ meditations, then please read my article here for suggested Apps to help (see tip #5): http://clarezechercoaching.com/beat-mid-season-workout-slump/
Happy New Year!