Breath work is one of the best ways to banish stress. Some studies show that practicing a breath work protocol can help reduce HPA Axis dysfunction (basically over-stressed adrenal glands – meaning your cortisol [stress hormone] levels are constantly elevated, which is creating chronic stress and inflammation in your body).
So what does a breath work protocol look like? There are many options for this. First and foremost, you want to always think about breathing with the diaphragm – so filling your belly with air on the inhale and letting the belly come back to normal on the exhale.
Now, let’s look at a few techniques. We also recommend doing this breath work protocol by only breathing through the nose.
This protocol involves breathing in, holding the breath, and breathing out for the same amount of seconds for each. For example, breath in for 5 seconds, hold for 5 seconds, and exhale for 5 seconds.
Yoga combines breathwork and movement at the same time. More advanced yoga classes you really have to focus on your breathing in order to stay stable in your poses. For this you can pick any type of yoga you prefer.
Alternate Nostril Breathing:
For this protocol, start by breathing out through the left nostril and then breath in with the left nostril while covering the right nostril. Then you will breath out with the right nostril and breath in with the right nostril while covering the left nostril and so on.
For this one, we are simply focusing on exhaling longer than we are inhaling. This will really help to activate the parasympathetic nervous system in order to help you relax. So, breath in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, and breath out for 7-8 seconds and repeat.
Think about things you are grateful for every single day. This can cause a significant change in your mood and irritability.
Truth is, a lot of us have access to a lot of things that many people throughout the world do not. We should be grateful for this every day. Make the practice personal. You will have a significant increase in nervous system strength and resilience. There are now multiple studies on positive psychology and gratitude. One study even shows that simple asking yourself “what am i grateful for?” – before even listing the things out – can have a great influence on your attitude and mindset.
Gratitude practice can literally rewire your brain because it has a self-perpetuating and self-actualizing nature: the more you practice gratitude, the more attuned you are to it and the more you can enjoy its proven psychological benefits. Don’t just think about what you’re grateful for, write them down every single day in a personal journal. There’s something about taking a pen to paper that feels even better.
Put it into practice: write down 3 things you’re grateful for every single morning.
Meditation brings awareness to the current moment. This is especially important in today’s busy society where we are distracted most of the day by cell phones, work deadlines, tv, etc.
Meditation can help reverse the damage of stress. Some stress is definitely good for your body (i.e., woring out, cold plunge, fasting, etc.), but in today’s world it seems more people than not tend to be in an elevated and constant state of stress due to work and other perceived life stressors.
Meditation produces a sense of relaxation and lowers stress levels. Meditation helps with anxiety and conflict response. The daily practice of being mindful and aware will help you separate yourself from conflict in a healthy way. Consistent meditation practice helps you to understand your thoughts and feelings and it trains your brain to return to a place of calm during stressful situations.
Meditation is also an accessible tool. You may think you’re too busy, but you’re not. All you need is 5 minutes to meditate. Most people reading this spend more time on Instagram than it takes to meditate. It doesn’t need to be complicated. It’s as easy as sitting there and focusing on your breathing for 5 minutes.
There’s no “goal” with meditation, you just need to do it and keep practicing it daily. There are many different forms of meditation – we are not experts so we invite you to explore the different types and find out which one works best for you!
Did you find this article helpful? We offer tidbits on training and health every Friday in our newsletter. Get workouts, recipes, and more delivered straight to your inbox.