Setting new habits: befriending stress and learning to leave it out.

In our previous article, we invited you to reflect on how you have been dealing with stress this year. Slowly reaching for the end of the year and aiming at staying healthy if not becoming even healthier than we have been so far, let’s bring our attention to the stress response itself. Although we give stress all the bad names, it is a helpful and necessary process which is worth understanding better. As for everything, it gets easier once we become aware of it and can adopt a more balance approach towards it. Here is how to get there.

The habit to quit: maintaining the stress levels high.

For those who were still doubting this, stress is in itself a healthy physiological response that helps us run away from danger and be ready & alert for action when we need it. And as nature always looks for balance, phases of stress are usually (or at least should) be limited in time and counter-balanced with phases or rest and relaxation. Actually, what a wonderful thing! The issue with this though, is that if we maintain this state of stress constantly turned on by getting ourselves all busy and overwhelmed, by engaging with negative and judgemental self-talk, and by forcing ourselves to achieve always higher goals even in our free time, we never give our system a chance to rest. And this is not the fault of stress itself, it is how we choose to interact with it, how we maintain it at a constant high level through our behavioural and thought patterns that ultimately depletes us from energy and prevents us from recovering.

The habit to adopt: allowing for a balanced stress response.

Our body needs moments of calm in order to be fully operational. Just as our mind needs to wind down every now and then to allow us to focus when we have to, our body too needs rest, care and stillness. And because body and mind are intimately connected, being stressed and tensed mentally ultimately impacts the way we breathe and physiologically maintain our stress response on, preventing our body from recovering in between. So let’s cut ourself some slack and aim to give our body, together with our mind, moments of true and well-deserved rest, as mindfully and as often as possible. It can be a break or a short walk through the office every hour or 30 min. A moment to breathe, a minute to stretch.

Are you ready to manage stress more consciously and effectively in the year to come? Then you are all set to get the good habits going, feeling more empowered, resilient, in control and calmer, no matter what comes your way. Make sure to check our NEW YEAR specials, as a workshop at your company or as an event session to include to your team event or meeting.

Book before December 30th online, set up the date with us for January 2019 and benefit from an immediate discount on your order. We look forward to helping you make 2019 a wonderful, stress-proof and productive year.

And for tips that you can start using straight away, check our online videos on our Youtube channel.

Picture @Unsplash Estee Janssens



The practice of resilience. How to start using it today?

In our previous article we introduced resilience and explained how crucial this can be in the life of every entrepreneur and business professional. Now, how can we develop this and incorporate it in all areas of our lives? Each of us can use more resilience in any part of our day, at work, on the go and at home, and here is a way to do this.

Pause, step back and breathe.

It is easy to bit ourself up for a situation, a project or a conversation in which we met a dead end. Although it is now past and done, we can still feel the tension and stress in our body. Our mind replays all the things that could have been said or done differently and we attribute fault awards to everyone involved in the show. Say you missed your tram this morning and are running late for an important meeting. Your are now reviewing the scene, blaming yourself and your cat for everything that went wrong the same morning: from snoozing the alarm to spilling coffee on your shirt; to forgetting to feed the said cat and having to get back in to do so, etc… Now how useful is this dramatic replay to help you go forward? Are you choosing to spoil your valuable time and energy on this or can you wipe off the table and make room for new solutions, for instance getting yourself a uber or calling a colleague to inform about your 5min delay in a sound and calm voice? 

Take a moment to step out mentally of the replay and breathe deeply, preferably in your belly. You can trick your system into reminding yourself that you are safe and that this experience was not the end of the world, whatever its outcome, simply by breathing in your abdomen. You will find yourself free and relax to respond in a better and more constructive way, whatever happened before.

You can trick your system into reminding yourself that you are safe and that this experience was not the end of the world.

Flip the switch from self-loathing to resourcefulness.

The place and set up are the same, the only element that changes is your perspective on this situation. If you replay the faults and guilt related to a past situation that went wrong, indulging your negative self-talk and your inner-critic to rule your thoughts, you are unconsciously choosing to maintain your level of stress. Mentally and physiologically speaking. Just notice how your shallow breath and tensions in your body directly translate and manifest this state of mind. Now you have the choice and as you breathe deeply and allow your all system to calm down, you can feel how tension releases, how this feeling of stress reduces itself naturally. Your mind is slowly uncluttering itself from the negative clouds and allows you to think and see clearly for new solutions and resourceful ways to act upon the present situation. Instead of running around on your way to this meeting and arriving out of breath, confused and tense, you can calm yourself down while waiting for the next tram and use these few minutes to visualise yourself entering the meeting room with calm, poise and confidence.

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For more tips and videos to help you be at your best in business and real life situations, check our Youtube channel and our website.

Picture @Unsplash Rawpixel

Stress management & productivity at your desk: on breathing (part 1).

All we need to start living a more sustainable and empowered business life is to breathe and to move consciously, with calm and awareness. This is what I demonstrated on CNNMoney Switzerland with Ana Maria Montego last week. And as simple as it might sound, breathing, moving and being aware of your self while you work and as you go through the day, will considerably improve your life on a physical, psychological and emotional level. This is what we help you with at REAL LIFE YOGA and today we will look at what makes breathing so powerful, giving you a first simple method to get you started.

Breathe to trigger your nervous system.

From all the physiological functions regulated by our autonomous nervous system, breathing is the only one that we can actively change to impact other autonomic functions such as our heart rate, and our mood. And because breathing allows us to switch on and switch off on command the para-sympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems, we have direct control over our physiological response to any stimuli and situations around us. How powerful is that! 

From all the physiological functions regulated by our autonomous nervous system, breathing is the only one that we can actively change to impact other autonomic functions and our mood.

Do you need to calm down before giving a speech? 

Then breathe through the left nostril (closing the right one with your right thumb, to switch on the para-sympathetic nervous system, which will trigger the relaxation response. 

When you need to relax, all you need is to breathe through the left.

When you need to relax, all you need is to breathe through the left.

Do you need to power up for your big day? 

Then breathe through the right nostril (closing the left with your right ring finger) to activate the sympathetic nervous system and release hormones such as adrenaline and noradrenaline in your body that will get you alert and ready for action.

For more tips and videos to help you be at your best in business life, check our Youtube channel and our website.

Source: The Science of Breathing, Yoga Journal, 2015.

Relax on the spot with this magic breathing technique.

Have you ever needed to calm down before an important meeting or before giving a speech? Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed between the deadlines, the phones calls and all the thoughts in your head reminding you about what still needs to be done once you leave the office? Look no further, there is a magic tool to help you achieve calm and poise whenever you need within a minute. It’s called abdominal breathing. Let me show you how and why it works.

Stop what you do now and breathe.

Sit comfortably and straight, long spine and shoulders relaxed. Place your right hand on your belly and gently start breathing into that space. Inhale: fill up your belly with air, pushing your hand out in front of you. Exhale: empty your belly completely, letting your hand move towards your spine. Bring all your focus to your abdomen as you breathe in, feel the air filling up the space, let your belly expand. Breathe out, let it all out, slowly, smoothly, without creating any tension in your core muscles. Repeat 5 to 10 times, taking long deep breaths here.

If you have time, continue for a few more rounds breathing directly into the chest. Place now the left hand on your chest and breathe into the thoracic cage, filling up your lungs as much as you can on the inhale and releasing down on the exhale. Here again, do not cramp up your muscles in order to breathe deeper, just see how deep your breath can go and while remaining comfortable. Check this video for step by step instructions on how to fully relax with the abdominal-thoracic breathing.

The best way to reduce stress instantly. Try this magic method whenever things around you get out of control and feel better instantly. It is called breathing! ABDOMINAL - THORACIC BREATH

The proof is in the breathing.

Breathing into your abdomen automatically switches the part of your autonomous nervous system that helps you calm down. Indeed when you start breathing deeply using your diaphragm, you activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which triggers the relaxation response in your brain and body. Your system knows that you are safe, that now is the time to relax and will release an hormone called acetylcholine to let your heart rate go down. From a simple breathing technique, you instantly create a major shift at the physiological level, which in turn directly impacts your mental and emotional states.

You have powerful resources within yourself and it is up to you to use them when you need them.

It is that easy and probably it is the simplest yoga method to use anywhere and anytime to reduce stress as well as anxiety naturally and effectively. So exit worrying and thinking that you should know everything about stress management techniques before you start using them. Stop blaming yourself for not having enough time to take a break at work or in your daily life to breathe and feel better straight away, in the moment. All you need to know is that you have powerful resources within yourself and that it is up to you to use them when you need them. From stress to calm, from anxiety to resilience, from being overwhelmed to feeling empowered.

For more tips and videos to help you be at your best in business life, check our Youtube channel and our website.

It’s ok if you cannot meditate. Breathing is enough.

From all the methods I use in my coaching, be it online or in the REAL LIFE YOGA classes and corporate workshops I teach in Zurich, there is one that amazes me each time I guide my clients through it. And actually it is the simplest technique you could ever think of when it comes to relaxation, yoga and mindfulness.

So here is one wonderful tip for all those who think they cannot meditate, for all those who are stressed and who wish to bring more awareness into their personal or business life, at their desk, in public transport or in the coffee break. You can do this anytime, wherever you are, whatever clothes you wear. Tune in and breathe naturally, this will change your life.

What tuning in and breathing naturally allows us to do is to become more aware of ourselves on a regular basis, training our awareness muscle.

Tune in, step by step

Sit comfortably in a straight position, long back, head tall and shoulders relaxed.

Now close your eyes and breathe naturally. Let the air come in and out of your nostrils, through the throat and down to your abdomen. Do not try to change its natural flow or intensity, just let your breath come and go.

Observe your natural breath

For yourself, just observe how it feels to breathe right here, right now. How does it feel to breathe in my body? Is it deep or subtle? Can I feel my chest or my belly moving together with each inhale and exhale? Can I hear the sound of my own breath? Can I feel the temperature of the air flowing inside my nostrils, slightly cooler on the inhale and warmer on the exhale? Stay there, breathing naturally for 5 more rounds, without attempting to change anything, simply observing and breathing.

Feel your body

As you sit here, breathing naturally, you might start to feel a part of your body that feels a bit tense or which requires more attention from you right now. Let it speak, listen what it tells you, feel it. Now imagine you can breathe anywhere inside your body, not only in your lungs. Imagine your body is completely hollow and that you can consciously breathe into this part of your body which feels tense or uncomfortable. Breathe into that space, go there with all your awareness, breathe out to release a little bit of the tension stored there. Inhale: go into that space inside your body. Exhale deeply: release any stress and tension, just let it go, help it go out of your system with the exhale. Repeat 5 more times. Then slowly open your eyes when you are ready.

Make it your own little yoga challenge, once or twice a day.

What tuning in and breathing naturally allows us to do is to become more aware of ourselves on a regular basis, training our awareness muscle. From there, we can feel more empowered and centered to take action and make better choices in life. Knowing that there is a technique as simple as this to focus on yourself, to come out of your mind, to connect with your body and to feel it. It seems like nothing but it has a great impact. You realise that your breath can help you calm down, it can help you focus anytime you decide. Just by consciously breathing into one place of your body, you can help your body release tensions. How powerful is that?

So make sure you take a moment every now and then, throughout your hectic day at work to tune in and breathe naturally. Make it your own little yoga challenge, once or twice a day. If you don’t have a minute for yourself, simple solution: make it. You can easily trade this minute to tune in with your Self and with your body, let’s say instead of staring at your phone or scrolling down your LinkedIn feed.

For more tips and videos to help you be at your best in business life, check our Youtube channel and our website.