Stress and Burnout
by Steve Halsall
A Celebrity Personal Trainer
Breathing - Your new best friend
No matter who we are, what we do, what we have or what we have achieved, every single one of us will at some-point reach a point in our lives where we feel like exploding or staying under the duvet with the light off. I have a very well healed client, ‘A’ list husband, big house and all the trappings that that life brings, stressing to the point of hyperventilation overt the new nanny ‘not being quite on her wavelength’. I wonder how she would cope in the back streets of Delhi for a day or two.
Modern life often distorts what is important, that being your health. It’s all very well being able to run for forty minutes to de-stress but sometimes people need to recognise that we all need to embrace the quiet side of ourselves. It’s one thing being fit but it's another being happy.
The eternal quest for happiness has been something that has thwarted even the greatest minds and scholars over the last couple of thousand years. Happiness is something that ebbs and flows daily, hour by hour and minute by minute. From my experience, having great energy will bring improved self-perception and from improved self-perception comes better self-confidence. From this greater self-confidence we would assume a happier outlook. Good energy comes from four main sources, nutrition, exercise, sleep and conscious breathing, the latter tends to be one that is lesser known and least practiced. Breathing is obviously something we all do without thinking too much about, we need it to provide essential oxygen to the body.
Most of us have a certain amount of stress in our lives, too much stress can be negative in many ways, increased tension around the jaw and neck are very common resulting in teeth grinding, headaches and restricted air supply to the body. By setting aside time in your day to STOP and take a few deep breaths can make a huge difference to both energy and mood. Yogis have been known to sit in darken caves with out food for months at a time breathing in the light of the universe as food and enlightenment. As most of us don’t live in a cave, we still must find a place in our homes where we can sit still uninterrupted for five minutes a day. I know this may be fanciful if you have a few kids, the dog and your partner grappling for your time, but five minutes a day conscious breathing will have an impressive impact on how you feel and how energised you feel. Different ways of breathing will bring different results, for this exercise I’m going to encourage relaxation and stress reduction.
Breath observation is simple to implement but only regular practice will bring results. I equate it to learning a language that is phonetically alien, you learn a few symbols every week and over time you learn to construct sentences and eventually you are fluent. Breathing is the same. Don’t expect that amazing feeling of being centred and calm immediately, but be clear that by setting aside those precious five minutes each day you will feel so much clearer and calmer.
You must find a place in your home to be able to sit quietly. I’d encourage you to grab a cushion or two and sit on the floor, cross legged if possible.
To observe the breath you must sit eyes closed, back straight and focus on the tip of your nose.
When you first start, your mind will wander with the thoughts of the day and the future, just simply ignore these thoughts and come back to the tip of the nose.
To relax, you must breathe in for five seconds and out for seven or eight.
By exhaling longer than inhaling you will feel relaxed and calm.
Be patient, you might want to get up and do the washing up or answer your emails but you resist this urge and stick to your breathing.
Tell yourself that it’s JUST five minutes. Once you have done three weeks of five minutes every day increase the time, the longer you breathe the better you will feel.
Stress and burnout are just a state of mind and body and you have the ability to control and nourish yourself so to be more in control of the triggers that bring the feeling associated with it.