I've been working in the health and fitness industry for years. Between selling gym memberships and coaching clients to use stress management for overall health, I hear one complaint over and over again:
"It's too expensive to get healthy!"
Between the gym membership, personal trainer, heart rate monitor, $100 sneakers (when did kicks get so freaking expensive?!), an organic/whole foods diet... I get it and I completely validate that getting healthy can feel like a MAJOR money suck.
Truth be told, slowly changing habits makes it way easier to adjust, but sometimes getting big change requires making big changes and I'm happy to tell you, stress management exercises are as cheap as cheap can get.
How cheap, you ask?
I'm talking that Thursday before payday cheap. Most of them fall under my favorite four letter word: FREE!
And thank goodness for that because stress is taking a HUGE toll on our health. Both Eastern and Western practitioners both agree that chronic stress can make you sick (or sicker) and cause weight gain. Plus, we all know how exhausting it feels to constantly be jumping through those stressful mental hoops and it's a lot easier to get healthy when that's not (as much as) a factor.
Stress management has physiological, mental, and emotional benefits. Just to name a few - it reduces inflammation, food cravings, and improves clarity and focus. Stress management truly is the missing piece to getting focused, hitting your goals, and luckily enough, it costs absolutely N-O-T-H-I-N-G to add it to your wellness plan today!
All you've gotta know is where to begin so I picked my favorite stress management technique and broke it down into simple, basic steps to get you on the road to a stronger mind, body and soul in 2018 (that won't break the bank!)
STRESS MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUE: DEEP BELLY BREATHING
Deep belly breathing is such an easy and effective method of stress management, it seems crazy to me that I never used it before. We spend so much time stressed and wandering in thought that we start breathing in shorter breaths that stay in the torso and chest. This is because stress is activating your fight or flight state (sympathetic nervous system) which shortens your breath. When you get very stressed or angry and someone reminds you to take deep breaths, it calms you down and switches you into your rest and digest state (parasympathetic nervous system). We all have this reaction, but it seems strange that we don't use this tool all the time to quell our overworked brain.
Now, don't get it twisted., this isn't meditation. Meditation is amazing, but it's advanced and a lot to take on if you've never kept a practice before. Deep belly breathing is less about the soul connection and more about calming the body and focusing the mind.
Step 1: Schedule 5-10 minutes every morning (start with 5 and build) to simply breathe and keep this appointment with yourself. You wouldn't miss an appointment with a doctor, don't miss one with yourself.
Step 2: Sit in a comfortable seated position with your posture straight and your shoulders back and down. If this position is uncomfortable for you, start by laying down on your back. Whichever position you choose, place your hands palm side down on your lower abdomen.
Step 3: Set a timer for the amount of time you want to focus on breathing and set an alarm.
Step 4: Take a deep breath in and allow the air to fill your belly. Watch it expand. If your belly doesn't expand, don't worry, this will come over time as you practice.
Step 5: When you exhale, allow your belly to contract as you let all the air slowly escape your body. Repeat at a comfortable pace until your alarm goes off.
This is my favorite technique because it's not only free and instantly effective, you can do it anytime, anywhere with no negative side effects! Doing it daily allows for mental clarity and focus to begin your day which is ALWAYS helpful for setting up a healthy routine.
If you try this technique or you already use it, comment and let me know! I'd love to hear your experience!
Peace, love & light,