4-6-8 Belly Breath
Have you ever wondered why some people seem to have a "knack" for handling stress? I will let you in on a secret... It's all about awareness. You see, the human body is simply remarkable, it literally has a way of tapping you on the shoulder the moment your stress switch has been flipped. Headaches, tightness in the stomach, racing heart, light-headed and feeling flushed are all signs you are starting to get caught in the stress spiral. It's now that you need to take action to calm that stress switch. The problem is most of us haven't learnt to spot these signs because we're so busy handling life itself. For example, when I was a kid I always knew when I was stressed out or worrying about something as my stomach would be in knots. Literally it would tighten up and the more something bothered me, the tighter my stomach would become. As a kid, my family always had strong farming roots. I loved farm animal toys and for years I had a special bull that I carried everywhere I went. One day I decided to take in my favourite Black Angus bull and use it for show and tell, I was so pumped up about showing and telling the teacher and the other kids that I must have not paid attention to exactly where I placed it. I was pretty sure it was in my pocket and after recess that day, I checked my pocked and it was gone. Immediately my stomach started churning up, I could feel it getting tighter and tighter as I hurried around the playground searching for it. Over the next three days I spent my recesses and lunch hours looking for my prized bull, but never found it. I was crushed. A few days later I clearly remember coming in the door from school, feeling down and upset. As I walked into the kitchen, there it was on the kitchen table. Good old mom had found it in the inside zipper of my jacket when she was doing laundry. I can't begin to tell you how quickly my stomach relaxed as it was literally like night and day. I instantly felt my stomach release. I'm exactly the same way today. Anytime something bothers me, my stomach goes into knots and I struggle to focus. (My wife just laughs and says "Don't all men have a hard time focusing...) Truth is...becoming aware of how our body tells us we are stressed is the first step to beating or reducing the amount of stress we feel in any situation.
Start to become aware of small changes in your body. Begin to spot how your stress switch is flipped as that tiny warning signal can become your ally in conquering stress. So the next time you feel that stiff neck, stress headache or tight stomach, take action. One of the best ways to unflip your stress switch is the "4-6-8 Belly Breath." Here's how it works... Breathe in through your nose for four seconds. Then exhale through your mouth for six seconds. Repeat eight times. As you inhale, feel your belly expand and then collapse with the exhale. This quick technique actually sends a signal to your brain that all is well and it can begin to disengage the stress switch. Remember, know your warning signs!
Quote to Ponder: "Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom." - Aristotle