Work Breathing Break

Mid-Day Time Out

From the moment you open your eyes in the morning (even from before you open your eyes if you use an alarm clock), the amount of stress you perceive gradually increases. For most of you, once you wake up its “Go, go, go.” Depending on how your morning starts, the day typically never goes as smooth as planned. Maybe you missed your alarm, maybe your kid was throwing a temper tantrum, or maybe you got distracted with social media; whatever the case may be, the stress builds and it doesn’t stop there. By the time it’s 10am, the whirlwind of the day’s agenda and to-do lists has piled up, and your mind is going 100 miles an hour. At this point you’ve had 3 cups of coffee to try and stay focused, but the stress and anxiety is still there. What do you do? Most commonly, people will take a big breath of air in through their chest and sigh throughout the day. Most of today’s population are already over-breathing, these sighs don’t help the problem. So, what should we do?

In this stressed (sympathetic - fight or flight) state, more often than not, more caffeine is not the answer, it may actually worsen the problem; but that is a topic for another conversation. The easiest and most readily available tool that can help is not only easy to use, it’s also free: our nose. Take a moment to be mindful and have intent with our breath. We can utilize our breath to calm the system down, and re-focus the mind. Think of it like a pit-stop in the middle of a race, only taking small amount of time to be able to continue on in the race effectively. What would happen if you got in your gas fueled car, started it and hammered on the gas pedal until the tachometer is red-lining and you held it there all day? How long do you think it will last? One of two things will happen, you’ll either run out of gas or you’ll blow a gasket (or worse!). This is the same with our bodies and our stress level, we need to find a way to get that needle away from red-lining; we need to find a way to shift gears and mitigate that stress. How long should you breathe for? It depends, how much time do you have? Sometimes you don’t need much; if you have more, take advantage of it! For the most part, all that is needed is a few minutes to just calm the system down, getting the parasympathetic system (rest & digest) to be more active and in turn getting your sympathetic responses down. This will help dramatically in how you feel. There are all kinds of cadences you can follow that will help (box breathing, triangle breathing, balanced breathing) , but the most important factor is going to be taking your mind off of whatever it is going on and focusing it on your breath and breathing through your nose. It may be tough at first, you might find your mind wandering, thinking about what to do next or what’s happening around you; but like with anything else you get better at it the more you practice. 

To make it even easier, I’ve uploaded a guided session on the Insight Timer App (free in the iTunes or Google Play app stores) so you don’t even have to think about what cadence to breathe. All you have to do is follow along. Remember, the biggest take away here will be to focus the mind off of what is happening and on to the breath, even if it is only for a minute (even though this session is only 3 minutes long). If you have time to get another cup of coffee, you have time to step away and breathe.

Download the app


Link to the audio:

Kevin Rodela