Today’s PickMeUp is quick and simple and always there for you.
Whatever’s going on with your day, the beauty of using your breath to help you centre yourself is that it is always there. You don’t need anything else, just yourself.
Mindfulness and meditation are becoming increasingly popular in the West but you don’t need to do anything elaborate to bring meditation into your everyday life.
Firstly, you need to take note of what your symptoms of stress are. It could be that your thoughts are racing, or that you can’t stop thinking about one thing. You may be talking to yourself. You may be tense. Typically people hold tension in their jaw, shoulders and neck. You may feel a little nauseous or get a headache. You may lose your appetite or you may feel more hungry. Whatever it is that makes you sit up and notice that perhaps you could do with a little reminder to calm down, all you need to do is breathe.
Focus on the breath and follow it in and out. You don’t need to change the length of your breath immediately, do this gradually over a number of breaths until you’re breathing at a relaxing pace that is comfortable for you. Listen to and follow the breath in and out, in and out. You could start to count the breaths. You can count each breath or you could count the length of the breath, e.g. count to 6 or 9 as you breathe in and back down to 1 as you breathe out. If you want to, do some belly breathing by breathing deeply and relaxing your abdominal muscles allowing the stomach to dome as you breathe in. This helps you to start to relax your muscles.
Do this at any time, for any amount of time. You don’t need to feel stressed to turn to the breath. In fact, the more you practice it at any time the more likely it is that you’ll be able to focus on breathing when you are very stressed. It’s amazing how doing this for even a few breaths can help you re-centre, refocus and calm down.
Remember, there is no time that you can’t fall back on the breath (well, almost). It is always there and whenever you return to it, it serves to remind you to slow down and connect to your body. It helps you to take your time to make decisions and to activate your parasympathetic nervous system which calms all your body’s responses down.
If you suffer IBS, I recommend that you take a minute to do some deep breathing before you eat. Stress is a typical trigger for IBS and just taking a moment to try to relax before you eat may help your body to switch from fight or flight to being more ready to digest.
…with love, Lenna x