KEEP ON BREATHING

Welcome back, friends!

In my last post, I talked about how helpful mindfulness breathing has been for me, and how it can help you too.

This week, I want to keep the focus on the breathing. I am almost finished reading a book by Dan Harris, who is a news reporter for ABC news (Nightline and GMA). He had a panic attack on live television and decided something needed to change. The root of the problem, it turns out, was his running mind. The book is called “10% Happier” and you can buy the paperback version in stores or online. It is very helpful to hear about someone else’s struggle with  running mind, especially someone who is in the spotlight constantly.

It turns out, his main aid to stop his running mind was meditation. He spends a great deal of his book talking about meditation and how and why it has helped him. He also gives statistics about how it has helped others. He goes on to say that meditation has helped alleviate symptoms from illnesses such as: ADHD, asthma, IBS, depression, and psoriasis. He also states that meditation helps immunity and reduces hormones that cause stress. With such great benefits, why isn’t everyone meditating yet?! Truth be told, not everyone feels capable of staying still for just ten minutes a day. Max Strom, renowned yogi teacher and healer, gives a great Ted Talk on this same issue. I will put the link below so that you can have a listen. It is very useful.

Meditation is becoming more and more common and mainstream, and big corporations have begun to implement this practice in the workplace to improve their workforce.The happier your workers are, the better the final product. It seems like everywhere I turn I am learning something new about improving and alleviating anxiety with breathing. It has really, really saved me.

I don’t want to make it sound so so easy, as if you just hoof and heave and your anxiety is gone…poof! No. No, not really. It takes work and effort. I would like to give a personal example. I have been very anxious lately, more than normal and it feels like my mind is a hamster on a wheel, going going, spinning, spinning. The old me would freak out and judge the fact that my mind won’t stop, but instead, whenever I find myself in one of these situations, I turn to a simple breathing exercise. It goes like this: breath is for 5 seconds, hold for 5, and exhale for 5. Repeat 4 times and see if your heartbeat has slowed down, and notice how your body is feeling. I used this today at the doctor’s office. I was waiting for over 30 minutes past my appointment time and was using my work lunch break. Once my lunch break time was used up, I started to panic and I worried I would just burst out in tears when the doctor came in. I sat on the observation table and began this breathing exercise, and slowly calmed down. This was perfect timing, because when the doctor arrived and told me I needed an MRI on my spine (lumbar injury :(), my response was a lot calmer and I was able to stay collected and cool for the rest of the day.

It’s not always that simple, some days you will need to go sprint down the road or hit a punching bag because breathing exercises just aren’t cutting it. If you are ever here, enraged, I encourage you to go somewhere private and just do push-ups. Why push-ups? Because they take a lot of upper body strength and, most likely, the rage and anxiety will make the push-ups feel easier. When we have anxiety, a stress hormone is released and we need to use that hormone instead of just sitting there. Imagine a tiger starts running towards you, your body releases the stress hormone and you run. It’s the same with your usual anxiety, do something about it. With push-ups, it’s a win-win because you are eliminating anxiety and strengthening your bod. If you have some limitations with pushups, you can always opt for another strengthening exercise, such as jumping jacks or mountain climbers.

With the holidays and the New Year upon us, I wanted to start ending each post with something I am grateful for. I keep a gratitude journal and it really helps to remind me about the good things in each day. This is a great exercise for people with anxiety. Just write down three things you’re grateful for every day and see if you notice any change in your daily mood.

I am grateful that my back injury isn’t so serious and that I can continue to exercise normally (like running the Rocky steps in Philly-see below).

Please feel free to comment below and let me know how all of these exercises work for you!

Goodnight and be well!

xoxo,

Evysieg

rocky steps

 

 

JUST BREATHE

Welcome back to the Running Mind Blog :)

I hope that everyone had a relaxing and stress-free Thanksgiving holiday. I had a very nice time seeing all of my relatives and catching up with them. I am thankful that I created this blog.

For the past few days, I have felt like my mind has been running a little more than usual. I am someone who suffers from excessive planning. I plan each day, weekend, month, in my mind. I think the holiday season has kick started this excessive mind planning, because I was starting to learn to let go of that habit. I have all of my weekends planned out through New Years Day- this is not relaxing. Why do I do it? I do not have a really good answer for that. I think that I look forward to doing all these things as I plan them and I get over excited, but then I end up stressed out and frustrated that I do not have one weekend to myself.

Since this has been going on for the past four days, I decided to go to a yoga class today, knowing I would relax better in that type of environment. I was able to relax through many of the postures, but kept finding that my mind would wander so easily. In this moment, the old me would get angry for not being able to focus and ‘let go,’ but instead I just acknowledged my fluttering thoughts, and would find my way back to my breath. I would try and notice the way my stomach would rise and fall, and feel the places where my body was making contact with the wood floor.

This is an example of mindfulness breathing and meditation and this has saved me from chronic fatigue. I highly recommend working  mindfulness meditation into your daily practice. It is very easy to fit into every day. I started off doing just four minutes a day in the morning and have grown to working it in twice or three times a day. Sometimes, if I have a long ride on the subway, I will close my eyes and practice my deep breathing there. The point of mindfulness is to focus on the breath, noticing it as you inhale and exhale. When you have a thought, simply acknowledge it, and bring your focus back to your breath. The key is not to get angry at your thoughts, nor to judge them. Just focus on the way that your stomach is moving up and down with your breath.

This is a great way to unplug from your computer, smartphone, television, and work day and take the time to be mindful and ‘clear your brain.’ After 30 days of mindfulness breathing (just 4 minutes a day), I felt significantly less fatigued. I was also pairing this with daily exercise and 8-9 hours of sleep a night.

So the past few days, when I have felt a little extra scatter brained and sleepy, I chose not to judge it, but rather to do my breathing and move on with my day. It sounds too easy and too good to be true, but it is a lovely fix. There are many articles that describe breathing exercises as a way to relieve many different illnesses. Deep breathing has proven to lower blood pressure and alleviate a variety on symptoms. In a way, you can begin to see how it makes sense. When we are firing stress hormones around in our bodies, it can make us feel rather weak. If we can begin to respond to these stress hormones by deep breathing or exercising, we will change the effects it has on the body over time. Personally, my theory for my fatigue is that my mind was constantly running and firing stress hormones, and it took a toll on me physically. Once I began working meditation into my daily practice, I slowly began to feel better.

Give it a try! Try doing some deep breathing exercises and write in the comments how it made you feel after doing them for a week (try to start with just 4 minutes a day). If you would like more of a resource, click on the following link to try Vanessa and Lisa’s meditation challenge. These ladies helped me begin my mindfulness practice with their 30 day trial. Check them out! Click here

Taking a deep cleansing breath has many benefits, but one of my favorites is that it reminds me to be in the moment, live in the present moment. Lets live in the present together and stop the running mind.

Have a great week and please feel free to comment to me below or you can email me with any questions that you may have 🙂

Peace and warmth,

 

Evysieg

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