Just Do This One Thing to Relax and Restore balance
It’s the time of year for gatherings, family, thanks, gift-giving, and hectic schedules.
’Tis the season to cram as much as possible into our already crazy lives. It’s beautiful and joyful for some and frustrating and overwhelming for others.
My son is one his way with his new wife and my grandson, and I couldn’t be happier. But I have shopping, baking, laundry, writing and a whole lot of cleaning up to do. My mind won’t stop.
I hesitate as I walk toward another room to get something, totally forgetting why I stood up in the first place. I would say my head is about to explode, but I feel like I’ve lost my brain entirely, and I’m balancing an empty shell on this protruding object between my shoulders.
I know I’m not alone, and alas, the season is young.
What is the time-deprived person to do? There’s one thing we can do every day to help us relax and regain our momentum. It’s something that sustains our bodies, and we do it without thinking.
We do it without thinking, and if we do it correctly, it can make a world of difference in our lives.
Are you really breathing?
Most of the time, the answer is yes. But sometimes we hold our breath without knowing it. Or we are not taking those deep, cleansing breaths that help us relax and supply us with the oxygen we need.
And yes, sometimes you do need to think about it.
When we’re stressed or concentrating, our breath becomes shallow. Maybe we slump a bit, our shoulders becoming like earrings. I took ballroom dance lessons for years, and my teacher was always telling me to breathe. He knew because my body became stiff.
And once I opened my mouth to reply, I’d realized he was right. That’s because I had to inhale to refute his statement.
Sometimes we need to be aware of our breathing. There is a wrong and a right way to breath and move oxygen around your bodies.
Begin by breathing in through your nose. It sounds simple, and it is, but you’ve got to be aware, aka mindful, of your breath and the quality of it. Inhale through your nose and breathe with your mouth closed. Feel and envision the air moving down into your chest, diaphragm, and belly. Fill your belly with as much air as possible and feel it expand.
Practice breathing in for two or three seconds, and then our for three or four.
Repeat three times.
Anytime you think of this, do it. It will eventually become a habit.
A good one.
Mindfulness is simply being aware of your surroundings, what’s going on around you, and what you’re doing at that moment. Be aware of your breathing.
Bring your awareness back to your breath.
As you take in a long, slow, deep breath, feel the tension drain out of your body from the head down. Feel your face and jaw relax, your shoulders move down.
Feel the heaviness leave your body.
You are in the moment. And you know what? Enjoy it. You’re not guaranteed the next breath. This moment is the gift your breath can give you.
The saying is, “the present is a present.”
You have the air in your lungs with you at all times, and all you have to do is consciously move it in and out. Pull as much into your body as you can and send it to every muscle, fiber, and cell.
You don’t have to take a single step or move a muscle to do this.
If you’re slouching, yawning frequently, your rib cage doesn’t expand; you have a tight neck, chest, or shoulder muscles; or breathing through your mouth, you are not breathing correctly.
There’s a right and a wrong way to do everything, including breathing. It’s basic and vital.
Try the following.
Blow up balloons
It will help you contract your diaphragm and core muscles.
Get used to the feeling and the effort it takes. Exercising your muscles makes them stronger, whether they’re on the inside or out.
Purse your lips
This will help slow your breathing.
Pretend you are blowing out a candle or whistling — practice one to two times a day.
Contract your abs as you breathe
Wrap your hands around your waist, and inhale and as you exhale, try to push your hands away with the force of your breath.
You should feel your abdominal muscles move. This will train you to use your core muscles for breathing.
Restrict shoulder movement
Sit in a chair with your arms and elbows supported. As you inhale through your nose, push down. Then exhale through those pursed lips and release the arms of the chair. This exercise will train you to keep your shoulders down.
It will also train you not to strain your neck.
You can do at least one of two of these exercises anywhere. You’ll feel its effects almost immediately as it destresses you, supplies oxygen to your muscles, and softens them. They’re especially useful in everyday situations like driving, dealing with people at work, or waiting in line.
And the season of waiting in line is upon us.
So take advantage of your breath.
It is one thing that can cool you down when the flames have been fueled. It’s with you as long as you live and can do so much for you if you let it.
Give it some practice. Use it when the going gets tense.
It will never let you down.
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