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How To Do A Stress Check On Yourself

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Apr. 30 2021, Published 4:00 a.m. ET

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As we’ve all had to learn firsthand this past year, uncertainty drives anxiety. And as hard as it’s been, sometimes that anxiety can be channeled into new opportunities for growth.

These days, whenever I’m asked ‘I thought you were a career coach, how did you become so focused on breathwork?’ I can’t wait to share my story about the impact it’s had on me and my clients during the most uncertain of times imaginable. I’ve also learned that sometimes, and not infrequently, we view stress as the source of our motivation. And it can be! Some level of stress is necessary and even healthy.

Yet it’s important to note that the self-judgment/criticism which anxiety usually fosters is ultimately de-motivating! Instead of driving you forward, it keeps you going in circles. And it’s hard to tell the difference between good and bad stress when you’re up to your elbows in it!Needless to say it’s a complicated topic.Luckily, the path to anxiety-reduction is simple.

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Reducing anxiety doesn’t reduce motivation, it let’s you access the most advanced parts of your brain.  Evidence based research shows that by using mind-body and self care strategies you can measurably reduce your anxiety, enabling you to think more clearly and focus more effective on the best outcome, not just the safest. Studies show that people who adopt breath-centered therapies reduce their perceived anxiety levels and recovery time, resulting in decreased levels of anxiety in the short and longterm.  This is the first step in developing the emotional self awareness that leads to personal growth.

Change creates anxiety, anxiety can either shut you down or you can redirect it into personal growth.  Daily breath-based stress reduction practices let people choose the later. As a coach, I always recommend adding a daily breath-based stress management habit to your routine. But if you’re not ready to make that commitment, schedule a 3-Step Pop Up Stress Check into your day.

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The 3-Step Pop Up Stress Check

Just by slowing your breathing and shifting to nasal breathing you’re naturally engaging the parasympathetic nervous system, bringing the mind and body into a more relaxed state. From this state we’re better able to make more adaptive decisions.

To begin reducing your anxiety levels, both overall and in the moment, start with a daily breath check. Make it a point to check in with your breath by noticing how you’re breathing at various times during the day.

To put this practice into action, plan ahead to check in with your breath at least twice a day. Decide on a time or link it to an event, maybe after a conversation, when you’re working on something, when you’re driving.

1. Are you breathing through your mouth or nose?

2. Are you breathing rapidly or calmly?

3. Now take a moment to slow down and begin deepening your breath by taking a few 2-part (diaphragmatic) breaths.

Noticing is the first step to managing your overall anxiety level, and that’s not all. By understanding the relationship between the breath in the body you can use these check in times to reduce your anxiety, increase your energy and even tone your muscles and improve your posture.

Your breath is the entry way to changing your brain!

Written by Elizabeth Borelli and originated on Thrive Global.

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