A lot of people are stressed without them even knowing it. Reading your body signals is a very important way to see if you are stressed or not. And how to step outside the circle. So you can start by being more aware of what your body is telling you.
When you breathe in your chest, you are likely to be stressed. When you breath in your belly, you are relaxed. The easiest way to know where your breath is, is by laying one hand on your chest and another one on your belly. Breathe naturally and feel where your body is moving.
Many people suffer from chronic hyperventilation unknowingly. Hyperventilation is the situation where you start to breath very rapidly, so you inhale more than you exhale. This way CO2 gets released excessively out of the bloodstream and your pH levels rise.
The symptoms are of all kinds: dizziness, pressure on the chest, tingling sensations in hands or feet, lightheaded feeling. There are two types of hyperventilation: acute and chronic.
Acute is the one where you have an intense moment of overbreathing, accompanied by a trigger that provokes feelings of fear and panic. Chronic on the other hand is much less known because it isn’t as noticeable. It means that you are breathing shallow in the chest almost all the time.
This way the symptoms are not perceptible as fast as the acute version. Still they are there, and they get worse if they aren’t looked after.
How can you start to change this process?
Let me explain this chain to you: thoughts lead to emotions, emotions motivate to behavior. Repeated behavior creates a situation. This is a chain that we go trough whenever we pick up a thought. So the impact is always in the thought because the rest will follow accordingly.
A certain thought will stress you and the brain picks this thought up. Therefore it puts the body in ‘danger mode’. This is the state where your body picks up a signal of danger (a stressful thought) and gets into preparedness to fight or to flee from danger (fight of flight response). In order to do that, your muscles will tense up, your heart rate goes up, you start breathing in your chest.
Your brain then again notices these body signals and a new stressful thought develop in your mind as a response to that. This confirms and strengthens the danger mode you are in. And so you create a negative feedback mechanism.
What can you do to get out of it?
This is deep rooted biological survival system that you can’t beat. What you can do is to notice it earlier and comfort your body so it’s switches over to safety mode again.
It all starts with awareness.
If you are aware of the signals of your body, then you know that you are stressed before the negative feedback mechanism has gone round and round, causing you to feel exhaustingly stressed. The more frequent you can switch to safety mode the more your body will stay there and won’t get triggered as fast anymore.
There are a lot of ways to switch to safety mode, but today I want to talk to you about the breathing break.
Learn more about the consequences of the safety and danger mode of your body.
It is a 3 minute exercise to be aware of where your breath is and to take inspired action. Watch the video here.
Let me lead you through the steps:
First step: let go of whatever you were doing.
This exercise can’t be successful when done multitasking. It needs awareness.
Second step is sit comfortably and close your eyes. Third step is breathing six times.
Feel where your breath is: chest or belly? Notice if you feel tense somewhere in the body. Don’t judge yourself. Be open to feel it. You can lead your breath to places of tension.
Last step is to ask yourself what you need right now.
This is the step of inspired action. What do you need? Do you need to drink, to eat something, have a walk, need to talk about something. Once you figured that out, do it.
If you listen to our body, listen to what it needs, but then you don’t do it, it doesn’t make sense. And it will definitely not add to your wellbeing.
The easiest way to do this is to link it to something you already do. For example, I do this exercise every time I go to the bathroom. Once you started practicing it like this, going to the bathroom is a moment of awareness and relaxation! And you switch on to safety mode every time. You will feel how it drops your stress level, I assure you that.
Even better, the more you switch to safety mode, the brain picks this up and the more you will remain in safety mode. And that is the place we want to be.