By: Nathan Davis
Let’s talk about stress.
We all have it at one point or another. Some of us experience stressful environments in the workplace and some of us experience heightened states of tension for prolonged periods of time where there seems like there is no escape. The worst part about stress is it negatively affects our mental and physical health over time and usually stems from issues that can easily be resolved.
Although my company, Team Builders Plus, provides team building programs and solutions to help organizations create stronger bonds and meaningful group dynamics, you may not always have activities like this at your disposal when you need it most in your workplace.
There is an escape. It is as simple… as something you are doing right now as you read this blog. That release is breathing.
Our breathing is altered when we are under stress. People tend to take short rapid breaths without even realizing it and when we deprive our brains of oxygen, we make less informed decisions, get headaches, and react more on our emotions. The best thing we can do for ourselves is to sometimes leave a situtation, breathe, and then reenter the situation with a different mindset.
If you have ever participated in yoga or meditation, you may be aware of a simple breathing technique that is capable of lowering your heart rate, oxygenating your brain and allowing you to truly calm down.
The technique is simple:
- Inhale as long as you can through your nose slowly.
- Drop the air deep into your lower abdomen.
- Hold your breath for three full seconds, and then exhale gently through your mouth for as long as possible.
- Repeat this process 3 times in a row and you will immediately notice the benefits.
The reason the technique begins with the nasal passage is because it supplies fresh oxygen directly to your brain stem. We exhale through our mouth to shed our excess carbon dioxide by diverting it away from our brain. When you reset your breathing tempo, you regain control of your environment one breath at a time.
Once you become aware that your breathing regulates your decisions and emotions, you start becoming more mindful of when your stress levels are rising by noticing a change in your respiratory rhythm.
Observe your breathing patterns throughout the course of your work week. What starts off as a subconscious side effect will ultimately become the signal that helps you course correct mental anguish before it escalates.
No one can avoid stress entirely, but you can leverage the issues you face at work as an opportunity to create more meaningful and efficient solutions that can truly solve the problems you are facing by remembering to breathe.