Stressed Out


So earlier this month I had a really long week.  Due to the wildfires in the Pacific Northwest, smoke settled over my little corner of the world and AQI (thats Air Quality Index) became the new buzzword.  The AQI at my home went from Very Unhealthy to Hazardous and back for over a week.  Which meant "don't go outside."  For my dogs that meant "don't go outside unless to potty, then right back inside." So I'm here to tell you that I learned a few things from this experience:

1. I don't like being stuck inside the house

2. My dogs don't like being stuck in the house either.

3. Being stuck in the house with 4 very bored Border Collies is no fun.  

4. The whole smoke situation made me stressed out and grumpy.

There seems to be a whole number of things to be stressed out about today.  Our current political environment, isolation due to Covid, riots, shootings, natural disasters, the list goes on.  

The interesting thing is that many of us experience stress without realizing that it could be building to an unhealthy level.  Yes, stress can make you sick.  It can also kill you.  So what can we do?  

One thing I like to do when I get stressed out is clear my mind by focusing on my breathing.   "Box breathing" is a simple exercise that can quickly clear your mind and relax your body when you are stressed.   To box breathe:

  1. Start by closing your eyes and get comfortable in a seated position or lying down (sitting is preferred, but if you need to lie down that's fine)
  2. Inhale gently through your nose while counting slowly to four.
  3. Then, gently hold your breath while counting slowly to four. 
  4. Begin to slowly exhale while counting slowly four.
  5. Hold your breath again after the exhale while slowly counting to four.
  6. Repeat the process again by starting with the inhale.  

For best results, repeat the cycle at least four times.   You can stop and do this as many times as you need throughout the stressful period. 

If a four count feels like too much for breathing, go with a three count instead.  The idea is to be comfortable with it.  If are you stressing out about the breathing, that's counterproductive.     

Box breathing can provide an almost immediate sense of calm, and according to the Mayo Clinic, can also help to lower blood pressure.  

Give it a try and see how it works for you.

As for me, well the smoke as cleared out (thank goodness) and fall, along with all the rain has arrived.  But in the big picture, I feel very fortunate that all I had to do was stay inside for a week because of the smoke.  There are others who had it much worse and my heart goes out to them.  

Until next time,

 PS.  Would you like to change your relationship with alcohol?  Check out my free E-Book, "9 Things I Wish I'd Known About Alcohol:  A Guide For Finding Freedom From Drinking."  You can download it here.



~Stretch Your Mind~

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