With lockdown being extended and no clear indication on how much longer it will last, if you haven’t already, it’s probably worth looking at making adjustments to fit with the new current normal.
Whilst many people have adjusted to working from home, it is not something that was anticipated as being a long-term change.
Whist staying at home is the safest thing we can do for ourselves, for others and to prevent additional pressures on the NHS, it is not easy, and stress and anxiety is on the increase. Everyone is experiencing it differently, but common feelings can range from feeling overwhelmed, fearful, sad, angry and helpless.
When it comes to helping yourself and your family, with so much information out there, it can be overwhelming in figuring out what’s best to do.
Breathing techniques have a long history in being beneficial for stress and anxiety symptoms and are safe for all the family to try. Keeping things simple is important, you don’t want to start implementing 5 different techniques and turning it into a chore, you are much more likely to include one technique into your routine which you can feel the results from very quickly.
The 4-7-8 technique developed by Dr Andrew Weil the founder and director of the University of Arizona Centre for Integrative Medicine, is a simple technique you can try if you are suffering with stress and anxiety. Here’s how you do it:
- Empty the lungs of air
- Breathe in through the nose for 4 seconds
- Hold the breath for a count of 7 seconds
- Exhale forcefully through the mouth, through pursed lips for 8 seconds
- Repeat the cycle
Try to practice for 10 minutes a day, starting from 2 minutes and working your way up to 10 if needs be and repeat 2 to 3 times a day. This technique can help to regulate the fight-or-flight response we feel when we’re stressed so can help us feel calm and reduce anxiety levels quickly. It can also be used to help you to fall sleep if you suffer with insomnia.
Another obvious thing to do that will benefit you mentally and physically is incorporating some sort of exercise into your routine. I would recommend you pick something you enjoy so you stick with it. There are so many free resources online that you can try and see what feels right for you. If you’re not one for following online classes, then put some music on and dance around your living room for 15 minutes! The point is, you are moving, and any movement has a host of emotional and physical benefits. Try this breathing technique and some sort of exercise daily for a week and see how different you feel!