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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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Being grateful makes us happier

Be Grateful

Imagine feeling thankful and full of joy on an ongoing basis.

A major step in that direction is through a daily gratitude ritual.

Each day expressing thankfulness and appreciation in all parts of your life for both the big and small things alike means you concentrate on what have, not what you don’t have enough of.

Here are a few hints to develop a daily gratitude ritual:

  • Wake up every day and tell yourself (or someone else) what you are grateful for
  • Get each member of your family to say one thing they are grateful for at the dinner table
  • At the end of the day list the 3 things you are most grateful for
  • Start a gratitude journal – Write down all the things you are grateful for every night.
  • Recognise and be grateful for the positive things you have done in in your life, no matter how big or small
  • Let others know how grateful you are for who they are or what they have done.

Being grateful has shown to make us happier and healthier and even help marriages work! The physical and psychosocial benefits of this simple rituals are quite amazing.

Try adopting a gratitude ritual each day. If you’re on the Ritualize app, you can enter what you’re grateful for on your ritual board and either let others know through the Ritualize feed or keep it private.  Either way, you will start feeling the benefits for yourself and others around you almost straight away.

Watch our video on Gratitude for more information!