Stress is not new. It has been around since life began. It’s part of our survival mechanism to help us stay alive when we are in danger. However, we live in a time of high pressure and demands, and most recently our stress may have heightened due to COVID-19 and uncertainties in the world.
Stress can be different for everyone. There are individuals who may experience chronic stress and anxiety. As soon as they wake up, they start feeling the unpleasant sensations of stress and anxiety in their bodies.
When we are stressed, our bodies start feeling tension. We may have difficulty falling asleep, or staying asleep. Some people may experience headaches, digestion problems, high blood pressure and generalized unhappiness. The question is, are you in tune with what your body is telling you so that you can do something different?
Here is a way for you to take a breather every day:
You may have heard of it as it is a meditation skill that has been around for centuries.
Sit comfortably in a chair, and let your feet touch the ground. Take a nice big long breath then slowly exhale. Repeat twice. Now close your eyes, and imagine you are looking at a square or a box.
- As you slowly breathe in, imagine looking at the square and slowly count each side.
- When you finish inhaling, hold your breath to a count of four as you imagine seeing each side of the square again.
- Then, slowly exhale through your mouth counting each side of the imaginary square. Exhale all the air out. Make sure you do it slowly and deeply. Shallow breaths will get you dizzy.
- Then hold your breath for four counts looking at each side of the square as you hold your breath. The go back to step one. Repeat several times for one to two minutes.
It is usually recommended that individuals practice this type of breathing when they are having an intense stressful situation. It can help you stay steady during an emotional storm. Keep in mind that when there is a real storm at sea, dropping the anchor doesn’t get rid of the tempest. The anchor only holds the boat from drifting away.
My recommendation is that you practice this exercise twice a day when there are no storms. So that when they occur, you will know how to do it. Beware of becoming caught up in the mentality of “I have to do my breathing, so I can get rid of this awful feelings and sensations.” This mindset could lead you to feeling more frustrated and anxious.
Remember, when you are experiencing high stress and anxiety, your mind is just doing its job at getting you ready to fight or escape danger. You can practice square breathing to keep you anchored, and let your mind and body know that you are safe!