Ep 4: Deep breathing isn’t just “take a deep breath”

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Deep breathing isn’t just breathing deeper, as crazy as that sounds. There’s a specific technique that allows you to use your breath to actually change how your body responds to stress.

Learn how to use your breath to calm yourself down.

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Full transcript 👇

Ep 4: Deep Breathing Isn't Just "Take a Deep Breath"

Hi I’m Lori Miller and this is your mental health moment.

When we get stressed, we may tell ourselves to just take a deep breath.

Easy enough, right?

But so many times I hear clients say they’ve tried to take a breath when things get nuts, and it just doesn’t seem to work for them.

But deep breathing isn’t just breathing deeper, as crazy as that sounds. There’s a specific technique that allows you to use your breath to actually change how your body responds to stress.

How does it work?

Well, when you get anxious or stressed, your body does a few things:

  • It increases your heart rate
  • Your blood pressure goes up
  • Your pupils dilate
  • Your stomach starts to cramp
  • and you may suddenly be sweating.

This is called the sympathetic response, and it’s quite necessary. It’s designed to get your muscles moving and away from danger, like running from a predator, for example.

You’ve probably heard of this, it’s called the fight or flight response.

But if you’ve ever had a panic attack while sitting at your desk at work, these symptoms may also sound too familiar.

There’s no real predator at your back, but you feel completely overwhelmed, powerless and amped up all at the same time.

And you’ll notice, too, that your breathing has gotten quicker, and more shallow.

Shallow, meaning, you’re breathing quick little breaths from your chest.

What you need to focus on in that moment is breathing from your diaphragm.

That’s a nifty little organ that sits right at the base of your chest and helps you pull air into your lungs. So when you take in a breath, you focus on filling your diaphragm, your belly, with air, instead of your chest.

It’s the same breathing process singers and wind musicians learn in order to project their voices and manage their lung capacity.

So it does take some practice.

Why is this important?

Filling your belly with air stimulates your vagus nerve.

Now, that’s a long nerve that runs from your brain stem down into your abdominal area — right behind the diaphragm.

The vagus nerve is responsible for ….wait for it… slowing your heart rate, controlling sweating, regulating blood pressure and keeping your digestive system relaxed and working well.

So learning how to breathe deeply gives you the power to instantly change how your body physically feels during a stressful moment.

Deep breathing is a very powerful tool to have in your stress toolkit. With some practice, you can pull this one out on a dime and change how you respond to what’s happening around you.

If you want more information about specific tools and methods for deep breathing, visit my website at lorimiller.me. I have a recent blog post that goes into more detail.

You can also find other articles and videos about stress and mental health at Lorimiller.me.

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

  • Leave a note below or ask me a question in the comment section below.
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Ep 3: Don’t stress exercise

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Sometimes we stress exercise because it feels like one more thing we have to do, and we have to do it well. Maybe we’re making it too hard.

How do you make exercise work for you in spite of all the craziness around you?

Don’t stress it. Just move!

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

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Full transcript 👇

Ep 3: Don't stress exercise

Hi I’m Lori Miller and this is your mental health moment.

Unless you’ve been living under a heavy rock somewhere, you know exercise is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to boost your mental health.

Doing some kind of physical activity every day:

  • reduces stress,
  • lowers that anxiety that’s always with you
  • and boosts your resilience to some of the nonsense in your day.

But exercise can be the hardest thing to fit in to a busy day.

It’s like one more thing to put on your list, isn’t it?

So how do you make exercise work for you in spite of all the craziness around you?

Don’t stress exercise. Just move.

The object here isn’t to add stress by feeling like you have more to do.

Just make some simple changes today to weave physical activity into your schedule, and make sure you do something.

Here’s a couple of suggestions:

First, plan for some physical activity when you have know you won’t have other obligations tugging at you.

This may mean getting up an extra 15 minutes to take a short walk, yes, even in the snow.

Or maybe you can swap out some of your normal morning coffee time to go for that walk.

Personally, I’d rather get up a tiny bit earlier than take any of my precious coffee time.

But do what works for you.

Maybe it makes more sense for you to pull up a short video on YouTube while dinner’s in that new InstaPot you got for Christmas. You have to wait anyway.

Why not use that time to invest a few minutes in yourself?

Find those little pockets of time. They do add up.

Second, don’t make it a formal thing.

Everybody’s always doing a plan or following a program. Regular exercise is less about having a beach body and more about just moving already.

Don’t focus on the number of days a week or the intensity or all that stuff.

Focus on an activity.

Things like:

  • A neighborhood bike ride
  • Yard work, or shoveling snow
  • A quick walk around your office building at lunchtime
  • Dancing. Yes, dance while the InstaPot’s cooking that roast!

High five yourself for the activity.

Move on with the day.

Then just do that again tomorrow.

That’s it. No pressure.

Pick something you can do today and just do that.

Keep it simple. And get moving.

For articles and videos about stress and mental health, visit my website at Lorimiller.me.

Here’s what else I’m saying about this topic

 

 

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

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Episode 2: Sticky note wins the day

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Here’s a quick way to set yourself up to find your wins for the day. And it uses an old-school office favorite – the sticky note!

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Full transcript 👇

Hi I’m Lori Miller and this is your Mental Health Moment.

It’s important to recognize what you do well every day.

This is especially true if you’ve had a day when everything seemed to feel like an Avengers movie. You know what I’m talking about.

It’s so easy to forget what you actually accomplished today when all you remember is that new project your boss dumped on you at the last minute.

Here’s a quick way to set yourself up to find your wins for the day right from the very beginning.

Grab a sticky note right now.

On it, write the words “Today’s two things.”

  • Then list the numbers 1 and 2.
  • Leave some blank space next to each one.
  • Stick that bad boy on your steering wheel so you see it when you get in the car at the end of the day.
  • Or stick it to the inside of your iPad case so you see it when you settle in on the train ride home.
  • Or put it on your bathroom mirror.

Doesn’t matter.

Any predictable after work place will do.

At the end of the day, when you get to that spot, right then and there, stop and give yourself two minutes to list two things you accomplished today.

Reflect on anything that felt good to finally finish, or maybe helped someone else finish something. Or maybe it’s just something that made you look good.

You probably came up with two things right off the bat.

Those wins are there for you no matter how busy or stressed you feel.

We tend to give our mental attention to what’s always vexing us, right? And then what do we ventilate about when we get home?

All the stuff that went wrong.

Taking a few minutes to reflect on what went right today goes a long way to help reduce stress. And it’s also a nice buffer to help you relax and enjoy the rest of your evening.

For articles and videos about stress and mental health, visit my website at Lorimiller.me.

 

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

Help spread the message about good mental health!

 

 

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