Last week I talked about monkey mind and how your thoughts can become like monkeys jumping on the bed! Those monkeys can be so naughty, loud, and distracting. I suggested a few quick ways to get those monkeys into bed.
This week I want to talk more about how deep breathing is a real stress buster – and add one more.
I had the idea for this blog series when I was attending a medi yoga (medicinal yoga) class where the teacher was discussing monkey mind. Monkey mind is both a symptom and a cause of stress.
These monkeys can really stress us out! So enter the medi yoga class, where the teacher had us do different breathing, stretching, and meditating techniques to let go of the stress that builds up in our lives.
By the way, everyone in this class, including me, was feeling immediate relief from stress. It really was remarkable.
You too can have feel immediate relief from stress! That’s what this blog is about.
Stress Buster #1: Try 1:2 breathing
In last week’s blog I talked about doing 1:2 breathing. That just means you exhale for twice as long as you inhale. If you inhale for 5 seconds, then you exhale for 10. This helps slow your heart rate, which reduces your body’s panic response.
Those monkeys really want your attention! Instead, let them jump around. Pay them no mind. Just count the seconds for your breathing.
Stress Buster #2: Count backwards while breathing
A Yoga Nidra exercise I tried early on had a section where you needed to count backwards from 27. Inhale 27, exhale 27. Inhale 26, exhale 26. And so on.
Counting backwards from 27 is good if you’re trying to fall asleep. If you only need a little relief, go as low as 5! Your brain will appreciate the oxygen and the distraction.
Stress Buster #3: Tend-and-befriend
This stress buster is really at the root of all the IFS and parts work I do with my counseling clients. Nurture the part of you that’s feeling hurt, and then bring it back into the fold. If only it was really that easy!
To make it easier, perform either one of the previous breathing exercises before you try tend-and-befriend.
Some researchers hypothesize that female animals use tend-and-befriend behavior in response to threat to themselves or their offspring. Female animals tend to, or take care of their young, and then befriend, or as Wikipedia puts it, “seek out the social group for mutual defense.”
(Humans are animals so this includes us too.)
Tend and befriend is a caregiving response.
When we know how to soothe and calm ourselves in times of stress instead of riding the emotional roller coaster and believing our worst case scenarios from our stress responses we suffer less and have the clarity to make better decisions for ourselves.
When you slow down these conversations or the monkey chatter in your mind, you find you actually have the space to practice kind, loving, positive self-talk.
Guess what? When you take the time to practice positive Self talk you are actually performing a positive way to interrupt your stress.