How to Use Mindful Breathing to Reduce Stress
By Aaron Baker & Fit Mom Diet
Living with the stress and anxiety of a spinal cord injury is not relatable for most, however I found many techniques for managing stress that are. One such technique is Mindful Breathing, a simple yet effective way to quickly shift your disposition.
What is most exciting and interesting to me is that I discover new ways of living & being in the most random places. Case-in-point: After graduation, my classmate Shannon and I parted ways for over a decade. Our lives went on without ever crossing paths (except for social media) until one day we bumped into each other at a food/nutrition convention in Los Angeles. Shannon and I happen to work within the same industry (health & wellness) and on that day we were both seeking education and to enhance our knowledge base. Since then we have remained in contact and now share useful information and techniques with each other that although are from completely different backgrounds, serve as useful tools for life.
So within this blog is information that is eons old, but framed within the context of today's busy, stressful lifestyle of working mom's, entrepreneurs, athletes and those, like me, that live with some form of disabling condition.
Shannon Dougherty and Kim Miller are co-founders of FitMomDiet.com and outline below a useful strategy (that works for me) for reducing and managing anxiety and stress that seems ubiquitous amongst our western society.
Mindfulness is the practice of becoming aware. Basically, paying attention to thought and habit. When anxiety surfaces it's very easy to simply react, which only feeds the problem more and creates unhealthy patterns. Alternatively, if we use mindful thought and breathe to bring awareness to the situation we can begin to rid ourselves of the stress we feel in these moments.
How to Practice Mindful Breathing
Focus on Breath
Mindful breathing is often referred to as "belly breath". It comes from deep within the diaphragm. As you breathe pay attention to the air coming in and out. If you find it beneficial place your hands on your belly and feel the rise and fall as you breathe. It helps to count breath for some people. Inhale to the count of three and exhale to the count of three. Breath becomes almost rhythmic in the process and you have to pay attention to it in order to ensure you continue in that manner. Although this can be done anywhere, finding a quiet spot to do this is useful.
As you breathe set an intention of acceptance. An intention is the formation of something you aim to create. Think of it like seeds in the ground. You cannot grow things until you plant. When you set an intention of acceptance you envision being peaceful with your experience. As you begin you might find yourself falling back into frustration, hurt, fear and frustration. Refocus on your breath and once that is established set your intention again. Moving to a place of acceptance is a critical factor in reducing anxiety. We are typically anxious because we want to deny an experience. When we accept, we can begin to take the necessary steps we need to in order to move forward.
The old saying holds true, "If you cannot change your circumstance, change the way you think about it."
Create a Practice
It might be tempting to use these strategies only in the midst of major anxiety or panic attacks; however, creating a daily practice can be much more beneficial. Creating a mindful breathing practice helps it become second nature. You will start to live in a peaceful state of mind and when faced with anxiety or stress you will have a new tool to help you get over your hurdle. Like anything, we get better with practice. Learning how to mindfully breath will not only help you reduce stress and anxiety but also make a huge difference in your overall health and happiness.
As an empowered Shield Healthcare Spinal Cord Injury Lifestyle Specialist, I take great pride in sharing helpful information to improve the quality of life. For more tips, tricks and life-hacks please visit my community at www.shieldhealthcare.com/community/spinal-cord-injury/