To be at our best, it is essential to take time to calm down. During a crisis, like the COVID-19 pandemic, it may be especially tough to do so. If you even only have one minute, take a slow, deep breath.
Rising Stars, LLC and and Ed Harrold and the Institute of Coaching have shared the following information and tips.
Ed shares, “Breathing under stress is quick and shallow, inhaling and exhaling into the upper portion of the lungs where nerves signal a challenge and activate a stress response (sympathetic nervous system).
Imagine your lungs as balloons that you are slowly filling up with air from the bottom of your lungs, all the way to the top of your lungs just under your collar bone.
Notice the diaphragm pushing down as you inhale, allowing the lungs and ribcage to expand, and rising up when you exhale. Keep your shoulders down and still.
Breathing low and deep stimulates the nerves at the bottom of the lungs, activating the relaxation response (parasympathetic nervous system). Nasal, diaphragmatic breathing boosts the immune system.
Take long, slow breaths
Breathing deeply in itself lengthens and slows the pace of the breath. When the rate of breathing is fewer than ten breaths a minute (6 seconds per breath), the relaxation response is activated. When we breathe at a rate of 4-6 breaths a minute (10-15 seconds per breath), the heart rate slows down and heart rate variability improves, with more relaxation and recovery.
Experiment with a four-part breath, counting to 5 on a full, slow, deep inhale, and a pause for 3 at the top of the inhale. Then count to five or more on a slow, full exhale, and pause at the bottom of the exhale for 3, or longer until the natural urge to inhale arrives.
Notice a pleasant stillness of the mind when you gently pause your breath at the top and the bottom of the breath.”
Randy Clark, MD, said, “The COVID-19 virus ultimately overwhelms your stress response systems. The key to health is stress management. His recommendations to decrease stress:
- Get outside, and get your vitamin D level up.
- Walk in nature, as you maintain social distancing.
- Take a magnesium supplement.
- Start a meditation practice.”
Some additional relaxing thoughts and resources include:
- Engage in activities that occupy your brain and allows you to focus on being in the moment.
- Exercise and eat healthy foods. Sleep is just as important for well-being.
- Turn off all devices for at least an hour a day in order to read, relax, rest and engage with others.
- Limit how much news you watch and how much you are on social media. Use trusted sources.
- Practice gratitude. Find the positive in every day.
“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference and you have to decide what kind of a difference you want to make.”
– Jane Goodall