By Valerie Gettings, CISSN
3rd year naturopathic medical student, Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine
We live in a world where there are constant deadlines, notifications, places to be, things to get done, and the list goes on and on, or your lists have lists. But how do we take a moment and connect to our body so our heads can stop spinning and we can get quiet for a few moments during the day? I want to share with you some great evidence-informed effective ways to get quiet when you have a busy day.
When we are in this flight or fight state, the sympathetic nervous system of the body takes over. It’s like getting chased by a bear. No where in that chase are you ever thinking of going to the bathroom, eating your favorite meal, or stopping to take a deep breath. Stress is like that bear. To make that bear stop chasing us, we need to invite it for a time out. We need to tell the bear, “You stop right there!” We need to retrain our bodies to take a time out during the day so the chase can stop and we can gather our belongings and get quiet. This allows the blood to circulate through our body more easily, the tension to ease in our shoulders, and for us to connect to the world around us.
Here are some helpful tips to getting quiet even when you have a busy schedule:
1.) Be where your feet are
I remember being so frazzled one day and I called my friend Laura. She said, “Where are your feet?”
I said, they are on the foot rest of this bus I am on. I am looking at them right now.”
She said, “Just be where your feet are.”
I thought, “Oh yeah, I can do that.”
So often we are in our head with all the things we have to do, all the places we have to be, and forget to look down. Do you even know which shoes you are wearing today? What color are they? Next time you are thinking of all those deadlines, just look down at your feet. This will bring your attention down your body. While you are there, just breathe. You are not just walking thoughts and visions. Thank your feet for all that they do for you and all the places they take you.
Research shows that when we do a body scan and are in tune with our body, we react to stress less, have less pain in our bodies, and have more balanced emotional states (1).
2.) Plug in the Binaural Beats
Even if you are rushing to your next meeting or in the car to your next destination, you can easily listen to binaural beats. Binaural beat therapy “is an emerging form of soundwave therapy in which the right and left ears listen to two slightly different frequency tones yet perceive the tone as one.”(2) This therapy has been shown to (2):
- reduced stress
- reduced anxiety
- increase focus
- increase concentration
- increase motivation
- increase confidence
- deeper meditation
Just go to YouTube and choose a binaural beat sound wave that matches which emotional state you are in and feel the stress melting away! This is my favorite one to boost positive energy and have a positive mindset https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxWrgMEvHis.
3.) Don’t forget to (alternate nostril) breathe
Every so often during the day, check in with your body. Are you holding your breath? Are you actually breathing in there? Are your shoulders next to your ears?
To stop the bear chase and start breathing:
- Exhale completely
- Use your right thumb and plug your right nostril
- Breathe in through your left nostril for a count of 8
- Close your left nostril with your middle finger on the same hand
- Hold for a count of 3
- Breathe out of your right nostril for a count of 6
That is one cycle. Repeat for three cycles to engage your rest and digest response. This technique you can really do anywhere to start breathing more deeply and helping your body work more effectively against the stress response.
Research shows that alternate nostril breathing helps to decrease the stress hormone, cortisol, in the body, lowers your heart rate, and helps to improve lung function (3). Deep breathing overall has been shown to decrease emotional exhaustion, reduce job burnout, and reduce social anxiety (4).
Have a wonderful day and stay tuned to more effective ways to support your brain and improve your health!
- Body Scan Meditation (Greater Good in Action). Practice | Greater Good in Action. https://ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/body_scan_meditation. Accessed March 25, 2019.
- Smith L. Binaural beats therapy: Benefits and how they work. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320019.php. Published November 14, 2017. Accessed March 25, 2019.
- Alternate Nostril Breathing: Benefits, How To, and More. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/alternate-nostril-breathing. Published July 9, 2019. Accessed March 25, 2019.
- Ma X, Yue Z-Q, Gong Z-Q, et al. The Effect of Diaphragmatic Breathing on Attention, Negative Affect and Stress in Healthy Adults. Frontiers in psychology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5455070/. Published June 6, 2017. Accessed March 25, 2019.