3-Step Pop Up Stress Check

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Catch your breath to measure your stress. As a coach, I know anxiety is one of the most common emotions we experience. After all, as Dr. Catherine Pittman reminds us, we’re the descendants of anxious people. Unlike the tribes who spent too much time in rest in digest mode, we used our fight, flight, freeze response to stay safe. And it worked! Of course, today is a whole different story.  The threats our well-trained survival system detects are less likely to be from physical harm. Instead, our triggers come from negative associations with people, places, or things. The tricky part is, this usually happens without our conscious awareness. And as the day progresses, you might find yourself increasingly anxious as your stress hormones stay elevated and your body warns your brain to stay amped up, and on high alert. The problem is, this state of mind keeps us distracted, unable to focus, and energetically exhausted by the day’s end. The good news is, there’s a simple intervention right at your fingertips. Merely slowing down and shifting to nasal breathing naturally engages the parasympathetic nervous system, bringing the mind and body into a calm but alert state. Studies show that people who adopt breath-centered therapies reduce their perceived stress levels and recovery time, resulting in decreased levels of anxiety in the short and long term. Fewer anxiety results in less reactivity, greater emotional control, and stronger focus. While I always recommend adding a daily mindful breathing practice to your routine, you can carry on your commitment to calm by scheduling a few Pop Up Stress Checks into your day. Decide on some times to add to your calendar, or cue yourself with a written reminder for the best results! 3-Step Pop-Up Stress Check To begin reducing your anxiety levels, both overall and in the moment, start with a daily breath check. Make it a point to check in with your breath by noticing how you’re breathing at various times during the day. To put this practice into action, plan ahead to check in with your breath at least twice a day. Decide on a time or link it to an event, maybe after a difficult conversation, between meetings, or when you’re driving in traffic.
  1. Are you breathing through your mouth or nose?  Fast or slow?
  2. Are you hunched over your phone, laptop, or steering wheel?
  3. Now take a moment to straighten up, slow down and begin deepening your breath by taking a few 3-part (diaphragmatic) breaths.
Noticing is the first step to managing your overall anxiety level, and that’s not all. By understanding the relationship between the breath in the body you can use these check-in times to reduce your anxiety, increase your energy and even tone your muscles and improve your posture. Your breath is the entryway to changing your mind! It’s the news that gets me up in the morning, and I hope you’ll join me in discovering the benefits of breathing into a breakthrough! Links to more information: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/feeling-it/201304/breathing-the-little-known-secret-peace-mind https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6189422/ https://www.healthline.com/health/nose-breathing#differences
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