Some days it can feel like stressed is the new normal.
Of course, some amount of life stress is normal, even motivational. But during times of change and uncertainty it’s easy for stress levels to ramp up, leaving you anxious and distracted instead of energized and focused. And thanks to the way our brains work, anxiety leads to predicting negative outcomes, ramping up stress levels even further.
Coaching clients through career transition made me keenly aware of the stress change and uncertainty can drum in even the most accomplished people.
So often I would be in awe of a client’s kick-ass resume only to learn the stress of the job search was undermining her self-esteem, leaving her questioned her value.
Determined to help, I shared confidence building strategies and productivity best practices, but at the end of the day, my clients still struggled. Information was nice, but it didn’t solve the problem.
Five years of career coaching later, it took an 8-month intensive training in breath-based mindfulness practices to finally get it.
Information alone doesn’t change anxiety driven thought patterns. Telling yourself not to think about how worried you are doesn’t work. It’s like telling yourself not to think about a white bear. Studies show how this strategy backfires!
It took ten years of yoga and meditation practice to successfully manage my own anxiety, but until I learned breath-based stress management practices, I didn’t have the tools to teach it.
Instead of trying to suppress or stop your anxiety driven thoughts, it’s more effective to take steps to reduce your anxiety levels in the first place. The breathing techniques I teach are effective in intercepting the stress response before it starts, and in downregulating it immediately after a triggering event happens.
These practices, which are rooted in mindfulness, actually create changes in the structure of your brain.
You’re rewiring long established pathways here, your brain’s go-to responses. So it takes commitment. But not an overwhelming amount. Studies show just 15 minutes a day of mindful inner-focused time reduces activation in the amygdala, the region responsible for the fight, flight, freeze response. It also increases gray matter, adding to the executive function capabilities.
More benefits of a daily breath-based stress reduction practice:
- Creates structure in your day
- Grounds you in calm
- Provides space to check in with your priorities
- Allows you to check in with your body
- Energizes you by boosting oxygen levels
This may not be news to you. When I talk with clients about establishing a consistent morning practice most say the don’t have time! Which is why it’s important to break down that urge to keep postponing until you have the time or the space or the know-how.
Click here for Top tips for a daily stress reduction practice
And if you’re ready to learn what all the fuss is about, I would LOVE to share a 10 minute,10 day practice with you starting May 10th, no yoga pants required. Click here to learn more!