We are a nation of chest breathers! As children we breathe correctly naturally. As we become adults however, we are taught to stand up straight, breathe and exhale, blowing out air, gradually breathing into our chest more and more.

Believe it or not, that is harmful to us. How many of us forget to breathe completely? Anxiety sufferers find it very difficult to breathe. What do we do when stressed? Forget to breathe. Nervous? Forget to breathe.

There is a right and a wrong way of breathing, and so many good reasons to breathe correctly. Once I share what they are, you will want to practice your breathing until it becomes second nature.

Dr. Andrew Weil received his MD from Harvard Medical School and has become an internationally recognised expert on mind-body interactions and is the author of nine books. Dr. Weil says: “If I had to limit my advice on healthier living to just one tip, it would be simply to learn how to breathe correctly.”

So how does breathing lead to our success, whether we are performers, directors of companies, power women, parents or children?

An article by Carol Krucoff, “Better living through belly breathing” ran in The Seattle Times, May 10, 2000:

Slow, deep breathing is a powerful anti-stress technique. When you bring air down into the lower portion of the lungs, where the oxygen exchange is most efficient, heart rate slows, blood pressure decreases, muscles relax, anxiety eases and the mind calms.

Carol Krucoff describes some of the medical benefits of breathing correctly. In addition to that, breathing correctly releases our resistance to things we truly want. Ever try to become unstuck somehow? The minute we give up, take a deep breath, our resistance dissipates and we are free! Sometimes we want things so badly we stop breathing and build resistance. That is the time to release it.

Most of us have a million thoughts running through our head. Sometimes our mind chatter is enough to drive us insane. Breathing deeply and slowly clears the mind and brings us right into the present. When we look around, we see everything become simpler.

Image courtesy of Tula Tzoras

Image courtesy of Tula Tzoras

Breathing correctly also aligns us with our source of creativity and inspiration. When we access that, we feel a sense of wellbeing, our creative juices flow and the ideas poor in, with exciting new possibility.

Breathing connects us with our inner being and our higher intelligence. It brings us home and the more we practice breathing correctly the more comforting it is. We can always check in and find our inner sanctuary. Breathing correctly brings us peace whether we are stuck in traffic, in a never ending queue, in an audition, in a make or break meeting, interview, or surrounded by screaming children.

Breathing correctly is imperative for people suffering from panic attacks, anxiety and depression. Breathing is generally hindered in these situations, causing serious health problems. Exercise, meditation and yoga will not only get the breath circulating, it will improve the mood and release endorphins, making us feel good!

So How Then Do We Breathe Correctly?

Here are some tips:

  1. Breathe into the diaphragm. That is under your ribs and right down into the abdomen
  2. Breathe slowly and hold for a second
  3. Breathe out slowly
  4. Resist breathing into your chest. You should see your belly inflate when you breathe
  5. Do not breathe too much, more than you need, as that can be harmful
  6. Practice breathing correctly with consistency, as it takes time to undo patterns gathered over years

Meditation is a great way to focus on your breathing. There are many ways to meditate. You may choose to sit in silence, focusing your gaze on a point like a candle flame. If you are too restless and new to meditation, there are innumerable guided meditations to listen to, as well as delta frequency meditations, working on your right and left brain, whilst guiding you through a meditation. Left/Right brain meditation has the added benefit of bringing balance to both spheres of the brain.

Breathing connects us with our inner being and our higher intelligence. It brings us home and the more we practice breathing correctly the more comforting it is

Whenever you are thinking too much, just breathe. The goal is to Be. When we are in the moment we can deal with any situation in a calm, relaxed state. Your breath is your loyal friend in the most dire circumstance.

Do you think that maybe an aid in your success? No doubt!

Wishing you amazing success and Great Health!

Featured photo credit: graphistolage via photopin cc

Tula Tzoras img Leaders in HeelsTula Tzoras
Tula Tzoras, The Inspiration Genie is here to Unleash Your Full Expression. She is an Actor, Author, Speaker, Host, with a successful acting career behind her, starring in several of Australia’s top rating shows as actor and presenter. For more information, courses and coaching, please visit www.tulatzoras.com

Very recently I was reminded about how good it felt to be pushed to my absolute limit and forced to draw on just about every one of my personal resources. And no, I’m not talking about boot camp. It certainly didn’t feel good at the time – or in the lead up to the event itself. In fact, in the lead up to what I’d imagined was going to be the “mother of all awful meetings” and one that was likely to have a significant impact on my professional direction, I experienced such extreme stress that I felt nauseated and edgy. I felt like I might explode. I felt like my throat would collapse and I would be so starved of oxygen that I would mummify right where I sat. In fact, despite providing stress and anxiety management strategies to hundreds of people over the past decade, in those moments I forgot to implement any of them. By the time the big event was upon me, I had worked myself into such a state that I had created catastrophic scenarios in my head that were so absurd, a colleague suggested I become a screen-writer because “nobody could make up these ridiculous outcomes”.

Yet, when the meeting started I experienced a wave of calm. It was almost the opposite of the flushes of sweat and bile that I had felt in the preceding days. That was when I realised that all the worry, energy, and sanity that I had spent building up this meeting in my head had been largely unnecessary. Of course, there was an element of what I term ‘positive stress’ involved as well, which assisted me in suitably preparing for the meeting. Overall, however, the degree to which I had let the panic build could only be described as a vast overreaction. When the meeting was finished, I felt like I had achieved the equivalent of running the City to Surf (which is unlikely to ever happen) and experienced a flush of personal pride and relief that I had not felt in a long time.

4 Tips on Stress Management

This prompted me to think about how we can all creatively harness the power of positive stress and manage emotional distress for future business events. Here are my top four tips on stress management:

List your achievements

During times of extreme stress it can be difficult to readily identify your strengths. Often, overwhelming feelings of distress lead to a sense of doubt that some refer to as feeling ‘like a fraud’. But, you’re not a fraud, you’re a woman with experience and skills that you have developed over time. By listing your achievements in writing, you are developing both a succinct ready-reckoner of your abilities that will remind you exactly why you are qualified to undertake whatever the stressful event is, and evidence of your previous successes. I suggest folding this list and taking it with you in your pocket or handbag, as a tactile comfort.

Journal how you feel immediately afterwards

This will be helpful for the next time you are faced with a stressful challenge. As I described above, the overwhelming feelings following the successful completion of a stressful event is typically a mix of positivity and relief. In the lead-up, however, it is extremely difficult to remember this. By journaling your feelings immediately following your successful completion of a stressful event, you are producing an authentic record of achievement with which to prompt your future-self that you’ve already made it through past stressful experiences. This can actually be far more effective than hearing others tell us “you’ll make it through, you’ve done it before” for the simple fact that it is experientially written by ourselves.

Often overwhelming feelings of distress lead to a sense of doubt that some refer to as feeling ‘like a fraud’. But, you’re not a fraud, you’re a woman with experience and skills that you have developed over time.

Challenge the most absurd possible outcome you can imagine

You have already imagined it, why not put it into words and take it on? This could take the form of writing, drawing, or talking about it with a friend or family member. What is the realistic likelihood of this outcome happening? What evidence do you have? Most of us have a tendency to rapidly magnify fears or come up with a myriad of potential negative outcomes for any scenario. Typically, what you will find is that the more you explore your absurdist possibilities, you will be able to rationalise and re-gain perspective. In my case, my most absurd fear was being sued for providing factual evidence in an appropriate peer setting and ending up being picked apart on The Project or Sixty Minutes – the likelihood of that happening was minimal, and by challenging it, I was able to re-gain focus and perspective without being crippled by a ridiculous mind-trick.

Get your groove on

Everyone has a ‘power song’, mine is Gold by Spandeau Ballet. A power song is like a theme tune, a song that builds your confidence the more you listen to it. Listen to this song as many times as you need to in the lead-up to your stressful event – play it on your iPod, in your head, hum along with it – keep it going subconsciously. This will assist in not only distracting you from your distress, but also reinforcing those positive feelings about yourself that your power song promotes.

Obviously this advice is aimed at providing generalised tips in a humorous manner, and if you experience ongoing distress I recommend that you speak with your GP or psychologist for more specific strategies, as well as reviewing the useful online resources at www.beyondblue.org.au.

Lauren Maxwell Lauren Kremer

Lauren is a Rehabilitation Counsellor and Career Development Consultant, with close to 15 years of experience across the two fields. She is the founder of Headstrong Women, a specialist women’s career development service, and thrives on innovation and creativity to empower women to reach their potential. Find out more at www.headstrongwomen.com.au or on Facebook.

Featured photo credit: Helga Weber via photopin cc