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BOX BREATHING: The Military Secret

In 2012, the New York Times wrote an article, called “The ‘Busy’ Trap”, about how so many of us over-schedule ourselves in order to feel more important, or to avoid being alone with our thoughts but our busyness can be self-inflicted. We often take on too much work and other obligations, and can let our ambition or drive come before our health.  It’s not as if any of us wants to live like this; it’s something we’re collectively – albeit unknowingly – encouraging each other to do (1).

So, if being too busy – and not challenging ourselves to be more mindful of how we choose to spend our time – is ruining our health, taking time out of our day, even just 2 minutes, to relax, unplug and clear our minds can have enormous benefits.

Box Breathing, otherwise known as Four-Square Breathing or Controlled Breathing, is a great way to reduce stress and to give your mind a break for a few minutes. The Special Forces, public speakers, and surgeons use tactical breathing to help control their thoughts and emotions when faced with challenging situations that obscure their clarity. (2)

 

HOW DO YOU DO IT?

Box Breathing is a technique where you take slow, deep breaths, while counting to four while  you breathe in, hold for four, breathe out for four, hold for four.

  • Start by relaxing your whole body and be seated if possible.
  • Sit upright, and then slowly exhale, getting all the oxygen out of your lungs. Really focus on this and be conscious of what you’re doing.
  • Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose to the count of four, very slowly in your head.
  • Feel the coolness of the air you’re breathing in and the way it fills your lungs, one section at a time, until they are completely full.
  • Hold your breath for another slow count of four.
  • Exhale through your mouth for the same slow count of four, expelling the air from your lungs and abdomen. Be conscious of the feeling of the air leaving your lungs, how the coolness has become warmth.
  • Then hold your breath for another 4 counts and repeat the whole process again (3).

If you have trouble clearing your thoughts, trying humming in your mind or really focus on the counting.

 

WHEN AND WHERE CAN YOU DO IT?

It’s almost like meditating, and so it works best in a quiet, stress free environment. However if you cannot find a quiet place, it’s something you can easily do with your eyes closed in a quiet spot with your eyes closed, at work or at home or anywhere in between. Give it a go while you’re standing waiting for your kettle to boil, or on the train to work, or in the bathroom before a meeting, or after you park your car, before you head into your office for the day. Repeat your mantra and count to yourself and no one will even notice that you are performing a stress-reduction exercise.

 

WHY DOES IT WORK?

According to the Mayo Clinic, a medical research clinic in the United States, there is a sufficient amount of evidence to suggest that intentional deep breathing can actually calm and regulate the autonomic nervous system, a system which regulates involuntary body functions like temperature. It can lower blood pressure and provide an almost-immediate sense of calm, and improve your mood. But the benefits of deep breathing also extend beyond in-the-moment stress relief. It’s an exceptional treatment for conditions like generalised anxiety disorder, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression. It can also help treat insomnia by allowing you to calm your nervous system at night before bed. Box breathing can even help with pain management (4).

 

 

References:

1 https://www.wellandgood.com/good-advice/stop-glorifying-how-busy-you-are/

 

2 https://thepreppingguide.com/box-breathing/

 

3 https://www.healthline.com/health/box-breathing#tips

 

4https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/decrease-stress-by-using-your-breath/art-20267197?pg=2

 

https://www.livestrong.com/article/225192-sudarshan-kriya-breathing-technique/

 

https://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/30/the-busy-trap/?_r=0

 

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Don’t Believe Everything You Think

Don’t believe everything you think. Thoughts are just that – thoughts” – Allan Lokos, author

Most of us want a mindset that helps us feel good and helps us be productive, kind, helpful and just all round awesome. But our mindsets are not always an environment of roses and fluffy clouds as we’d like them to be. This is often hard to be aware of and hard to change.

Think of the set in mindset.  It’s rigid, stubborn …. it’s set.

Why does this happen?  It’s a cumulation of past experiences, previous thoughts, relationships, what others have done and said (even as small children), what we’ve seen in the media and what the most important people in our lives have said or done that make up our current mindset. The beliefs, opinions and attitudes that make up our mindset are pretty much hard-wired in us but this hard-wiring can be changed.

There are so many ways to look at a situation, so many different ways to think about the things that happen to you and around you. Remember the story of Pollyanna? She saw the good in everything, even in the worst situations.  The first step is to be aware of your thinking choices.  We have around 50,000-70,000 thoughts a day and many of these are repeated and many not logical.  

Cognitive bias, false assumptions, misinformation, ego and limited beliefs are just a few patterns of unhealthy thought that interfere with our judgement. With a rise in mental health issues wordwide, there are a lot of us out there with unhealthy thought patterns. One in 4 people worldwide are affected by a mental health disorder (1) and 4 million people in Australia are experiencing a Mental Health issues (2) with Tasmania ranking the highest for hospital admissions due to mental health issues.(3) Mental health can be a complex issue.  Having awareness of whether you have a positive or negative mindset can be a help.

If you tell yourself you’re a failure, you believe you’ll never be good enough, you believe that people in the street look at you because they’re judging you, you believe you could never get to where you want to get to – you may want to start challenging these limiting beliefs.  

Here are some tips for rewiring your brain to create a positive mindset – often referred to a ‘growth mindset:

  • Use positive words instead of negative ones. Words create thoughts which create feeling, so try and keep them positive.
  • Be grateful. Research is showing us that a daily gratitude ritual makes us happier. Add the gratitude ritual on the Ritualize app and make a note of something you are thankful for each day.
  • When talking or thinking about something you’d like to have or do, use aspirational and positive language, for example:
    • Instead of “I can’t run 5km” you’d say “I can’t run 5km yet”
    • OR
    • I can’t run 5km yet/however I can go swimming more often.
    • OR
    • I’m not sleeping well YET but it’s something I’m working on.
  • Be empathetic to others. We are often so entrenched in our own beliefs that we don’t see others points of view.

Taking control of your thoughts is the first step to a more positive and happier mindset.  Listen to your thoughts before you react.

 

REFERENCES

http://www.who.int/whr/2001/media_centre/press_release/en/

http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/4364.0.55.001

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-14/community-based-care-needed-to-curb-mental-health-hospital-admi/9049808

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Your Brain Needs Water

In order for our brains to function optimally we need to ensure we stay hydrated.  Brain cells need water (amongst other things) to operate or they will quickly lose efficiency when the balance is lost. 

Drinking water is not just about quenching thirst.  Studies have shown that dehydration can actually cause the brain to shrink, linking to declining memory, difficulty thinking clearly and doing complex tasks (like a crossword). 

The good news is, having a glass of water quickly brings the brain back to normal. Other studies have shown that students who drink water before an exam can do up to three times better than those who had none.  

Water could also be the answer to those who wake up grumpy. On a typical night’s sleep, there’s up to 10 hours without water.  We sweat and breathe out moisture and therefore can be dehydrated when we wake , which can affect mood.  

If you want to be on top of your game or avoid that afternoon slump, try water to maximise your thinking, focus and mood.

6 signs you could be dehydrated:

  1. You’re tired
  2. You’re hungry
  3. You have a headache
  4. Your skin is dry
  5. You feel hot
  6. You’re grumpy

Our guideline is 30ml of water for every Kg of body weight (eg 30ml x 56kg=1,680ml or rounded to 2 litres water).

We are lucky we live in a part of the world that has access to clean water.  It’s something to be grateful for.  Consider donating to a charity such as https://thewaterproject.org/give-water to help those struggling without water.

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Binge-watching before bedtime…

Are you guilty of it?

Since the introduction of streaming companies, such as Netflix and Stan, the era of scheduled programming has seemingly come to an end. Everyone can watch the content they like when they like. This unprecedented access has introduced a new viewing style: Binge Watching. Binge watching is defined as “watching multiple consecutive episodes of the same television show in one sitting on a screen, be it a television, laptop, computer or tablet.”

Prior research has indicated that media bingeing was associated with more anxiety, depression, and fatigue. Binge viewers also reported higher levels of loneliness and depression. In more recent studies, conducted by the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, it was reported that binge-watchers had more fatigue, insomnia symptoms, poorer sleep quality, and feeling more alert before going to sleep. Those who binge-watch before bed had 98% more chance of having poor-quality sleep than those who didn’t.

Looking at bright screens, especially at night, can wreak havoc on your biology, because it is one of the cues that helps maintain our circadian rhythm, or body clock. When it gets dark, our bodies start to prepare for sleep, but bright lights can trick our brains into thinking it’s still daytime and it reduces our ability to secrete melatonin, which makes it not only harder to fall asleep, but also reduces the amount of sleep you get once you do fall asleep.

While we don’t expect you to stop watching shows, there is a way to help combat the binge-watching addiction. Dr Robert Oexman, a member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, says the best way to do it is on the weekend, and earlier in the day instead of the late evenings. Ideally, binge-watching should occur before 6 pm, and if that’s not possible, you should at least stop watching shows an hour before you start getting ready for bed.

For more tips and information on how to help improve your quality of sleep, check out our Ritualize app!

 

References:

https://www.google.com.au/amp/variety.com/2017/digital/news/binge-watching-health-risks-netlfix-1202447516/amp/

http://jcsm.aasm.org/viewabstract.aspx?pid=31062

https://www.businessinsider.com.au/tv-binge-watching-can-damage-your-health-2017-9

 

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