How to Eliminate Stress in 30 Seconds or Less!
On Sunday I was a spectator at my son’s basketball tournament. Both teams were equally matched, and the competition was intense. Throughout the game, the coach of the other team constantly yelled commands to his players. His voice was extremely loud and his tone of voice was angry and aggressive. His behavior was unusual because both teams were made up of kids 10 or 11 years old. Most of them are still learning the basics of the game.
As the game progressed, I found myself getting stressed. I started to feel agitated. I noticed that my breathing was becoming shallower. This is very common when we feel stressed. We start breathing faster and less deeply and ultimately only use 50 percent of the oxygen in our lungs. When our breathing becomes shallower, we only circulate a limited amount of oxygen in our body. This signals our body to increase cortisol and adrenaline because shallower breathing signals danger.
So, what could I do to eliminate my stress? I couldn’t leave the gym because I would miss part of the game. Fortunately, I remembered a simple stress reduction strategy that can be practiced anywhere and anytime: deep breathing. All you have to do is start breathing deeply by inhaling slowly with a rise of your belly. Put your hand on your belly and feel it rise up and lower down. Breathe deeply, fully and slowly for about 30 seconds. This signals your body that “the coast is clear,” the danger has passed and you can relax.
I encourage you to practice doing this right now: With your hand on your belly, breath in, take a deep long breath; watch your hand as they rise up as you breathe in. Then watch your hand as you exhale. Let the air out of your belly and then take another deep breath.
As you do this for 30 seconds you will begin to feel more relaxed. So, remember, every time you start feeling overwhelmed with your to-do list, when you feel angry, when you are starting to worry about your business or career success, start breathing deeply. This even works when you’re stuck in traffic while late for work. Take a few deep, calm, slow breaths and feel peace re-enter your life!
This is what happened to me as I watched my son’s basketball game. As I breathed deeply, I started feeling more relaxed. Although my son’s team eventually lost the game, they played very well and I was very proud of them. I was also proud of myself for remembering to breathe deeply.