Most of us would love to take a long vacation from the stresses and frustration of the pandemic about now. I know I would. But since it looks like we’re back struggling with rising numbers and a nasty variant, what about settling for adding some 45-second breaks in your day to lower stress?
The break I’m proposing can be done anywhere, in your car, at your desk, before you go into the sound booth, or just about anywhere. It’s a good way to let go of tension throughout the day. It’s sort of like rebooting your computer when it’s not working at its best. So let’s look at how these work.
These 24-second breaks are basically deep breathing breaks. Most of us restrict our breathing during the day without even noticing it. Instead of taking deep, relaxing breaths like we would when going to sleep, we move our breathing into the upper chest, which automatically makes it shallower. For a demonstration of this, watch this short video of mine: https://onlinevoicecoaching.com/?p=209
Now that you know a bit about abdominal-diaphragmatic breathing, try this short exercise right now. Slowly count from one to four, while taking a deep inhalation, engaging the stomach so the diaphragm is working. Once you reach four, exhale beginning at four and continue until you reach one again (if you begin to feel any dizziness, make the breaths slower.) Are you feeling more relaxed? Doing this only four times can help, but aim for 45 seconds if it feels comfortable.
If you want to add to the relaxation, close your eyes if you’re in a place where you can, and do the exercise above, imagining something you love, like a person, pet, pretty flowers, waves on the ocean, etc., while you do it. This helps your brain slow down and really works to lessen tension.
For really tense situations, I count the inhalation/exhalation in a different way. This breathing comes from a Yoga breathing exercise in which you inhale to the count of four, hold your inhalation to the count of four, and exhale to the count of six. These breaths have been shown to lower blood pressure temporarily and provide a deep relaxation.
So when you just wish this whole pandemic thing would disappear, and we could all get back to our normal lives, take 45 seconds to step into a calmer space. Add these throughout the day for not just a better hour but a better day.