It’s incredible the amount of stress that the average American finds themselves under each day.
It starts with our alarms waking us up. Then, we frantically run around the house getting our kids ready for school, wolfing down our breakfasts (often standing up), chugging coffee, and rushing. Of course, we get into traffic on our way to work. Once at work, we have an insurmountable amount of tasks to complete, deadlines, projects, bosses, colleagues, meetings, challenges, and personalities to deal with. We generally make poor food choices at work, which adds to our stress, and likely end up chugging another cup of coffee or two.
After work, we get stuck in traffic again. We pick up our kids and take them to their after school activities, and make sure they have their homework completed. After that, we still have dinner to make, and we usually end up feeding everyone else first, and ourselves last. We pay bills, and likely realize that we’re tight financially, again. Then we try to spend some time with our families, maybe catch up on some TV, and finally, go to sleep. Sometimes, we’re so tired that we fall asleep on the couch in the living room while watching TV.
Does any of this sound familiar to you?
You aren’t alone. This is how we live.
We are chronically under stress. As a result, we are far more prone to stress-related inflammatory illness, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, and respiratory illness. Unless we learn to effectively deal with our stress, then we are going to eventually have an issue.
Yes, exercise is critical. Yes, proper nutrition is too and so is sleep. But what if there was a way to reduce stress that took little to no effort, once you’ve learned how?
There is. It’s called breath work.
Just simply learning how to take deep breaths for a few minutes has been shown to reduce heart rate, decrease stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, and lower blood pressure. Just learning to breathe.
“But we don’t think about breathing,” you say.
That’s where mindfulness comes in. Conscious awareness, either through thought or meditation, are great for developing the calming effects of deep breathing.
The US Navy SEALS do it. Buddhist monks do it. Yogis do it. Powerlifters do it. Boxers and MMA fighters do it. Why don’t you?
Here’s an activity you can try at home. It’s called “box breathing”. Like down on your back in a quiet space, with your arms either on your chest and belly, or down at your sides, whichever you prefer. Inhale deeply through your nose for a 4 count, hold the full breath for a 4 count, exhale through your mouth for a 4 count, and hold the empty breath for a 4 count. That’s a single breath cycle: 4-4-4-4. Try this for 5 minutes a day.
There are a number of great resources for learning how to breathe to calm yourself. I’ve posted a couple below:
- Wim Hof Method
- Mark Devine (Box Breathing)
- Calm or Headspace meditation apps
I’m here to help.
If you’d like online fitness or nutrition coaching, you can reach out to me here on the blog, on our website at www.renegadefitnessmiami.com, Facebook at Renegade Fitness, or Instagram @renegadefitnessmiami.