|Decrease Stress, Increase Happiness Series:
By J. Arielle Golden
Do you know how to breathe? Let’s try an experiment. Place one hand on your upper chest and one hand on your lower abdomen. Now, pay attention to what happens to your hands as you take a deep breath.
Did the hand on your chest move? You might be using only a small portion of the upper part of your lungs and not getting the full life-giving benefits of oxygen.
Did the hand on your abdomen move? You are taking in more oxygen and using more of your lungs’ capacity. Unfortunately, you are also breaking a major taboo in our society — letting your stomach stick out.
Did neither hand move? Please stop reading and call 911 immediately! OK, that was a joke, but not breathing could seriously limit your lifespan.
Watch babies. They breathe with their entire bodies. Once they start walking someone will tell them, “Shoulders back, stomach in!” This is not natural. It tightens our muscles and restricts our breathing. The more we restrict our breathing, the more we experience stress. The more stress we have, the more we restrict our breathing.
This lesson was driven home for me after a difficult week on the road. I was headed home after flying five out of six nights and delivering five seminars in five cities. I was exhausted and had an hour layover in Las Vegas. I walked to my new gate hoping the movement would clear my head. It didn’t.
Then I spotted the oxygen bar nestled among the slot machines. For 15 minutes I inhaled oxygen scented with eucalyptus and other mysterious herbs. When I stood up, I was so relaxed I was a little light-headed. As I walked the short distance to my gate, I found I was filled with energy and a sense of well-being. Up until that moment, I had not realized how my exhaustion had limited my breathing.
So — to beat stress and increase happiness in your life, remember to “JUST BREATHE!” Several times a day, take a minute to practice deep abdominal breaths, or as actors say, “breathe from your diaphragm.” Actors require deep breathing in order to support their voices. We all require deep breathing to support our lives.
Next time one of your stress triggers goes off, take a moment to breathe. Notice what happens to your tension. Notice what happens to your ability to think clearly. Use this moment to slow down your reactions and find a better way to respond to the situation.
Stress, like love, can literally take our breath away. While love is a pleasant feeling, stress is not. Take time to breathe deeply, and enjoy your life ... deeply.
J. Arielle Golden is a highly sought-after seminar leader, business consultant, and a Licensed Heartmath® Coach. Ms. Golden brings a rich tapestry of experience and knowledge to her keynotes and seminars. Here are just a few of her most requested programs: Communication and Collaboration, Listening Skills, and Developing Your Emotional Intelligence. To arrange to have J. Arielle Golden come into your organization to present a custom program for you, contact our Enterprise Learning Solutions department at 1-800-344-4613.
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I am a breathing therapist so it was delightful to come upon your experience oxygen experience. But it is odd explaining to people what they are missing and how easy it is to have.
I teach on the northern California coast in Mendocino where there is a greater acceptence of such things. Hopefully it will spread.
When I get stressed out, I blow bubbles. Not only do they make me smile and feel like a kid, but it requires deep breathing. I end up feeling relaxed and much less stressed out. It also makes my coworkers smile. :)
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