Take 5 minutes daily to enhance your wellbeing; all you need to do is… Breathe!
Summer tends to be a good time for us: physically active, feeling more positive and energized...
As with our body, so with our mind!
Take advantage of your relaxed frame of mind, follow the 3 simple steps below
to “work out” happy triggers throughout the summer for enhanced wellbeing.
Breathe in the “here and now” - 1 minute
Counter-intuitively, putting ourselves in the present moment can help deal with the past (letting go of not-so-pleasant memories) and face the future with more confidence as we practice detachment.
- Breathe normally for a few “rounds”; notice how shallow or deep your intake of air is, how long you take to let the air out, what parts of your body move with your breath. Concentrate, follow the air mentally throughout your body.
- Take deeper and slower breaths in, all the way down to the belly, experience the stretching the ribs sideways and in the back, feel the diaphragm depressing and pushing the belly out; pause ever so slightly before breathing out, pushing the air all the way up from the belly, past the chest, the throat and out. Count the tempo: is the exhalation slighty longer? Or not? Observe your expanded breathing (4 to 6 times).
- Resume normal breathing; no judgment, simply noting the present moment.
Activate your Happiness trigger - 3 minutes
There have been many studies showing that the body does not differentiate between a “real” and an “invented” experience. Some refer to the brain’s “plasticity” to explain the fact we can influence the way we feel with our thoughts and change our reactions to challenges accordingly.
- Breathing normally, picture happy thought in your mind, real or imaginary, past, future or present, a comedy, a comic book, laughter shared with friends, a moment of joy… It can be very simple like a funny shape made by a cloud or the fact that first coffee tasted so good… Feel an interior smile radiating throughout our body.
- Associate a word, a mental picture that this happy thought for example, picturing the sun may trigger you to think “warmth and energy”. Think strong, positive words and phrases. Vocabulary is important. If sun = sunburn, moderate this vision by concentrating on the positive aspects of that extraordinary energy (e,g, growing crops) or move to another idea.
- Retain that word / phrase, “breathe it in”, a deep and slow breath in, all the way down to the belly; hold your breath, “radiate” that word or phrase, expand that happy, positive thought throughout your body. Breathe out, forcing the air audibly out of your body pffffffff, feeling grateful for the positive feelings.
- Repeat the step above another couple of times, breathing in positivity, happiness, funny ideas, pausing for expanding those words / phrases / ideas and relaxing on the out breath, feeling thankful.
Relax that body - 1 minute
We are often incredibly tense in the way we stand, sit, work, play computer games… Every now and again throughout the day, take a pause from your activities and check how your body feels.
Do you need to relax those shoulders, stretch that neck bent over a tablet, shift those buttocks in your seat to make you more erect and relieve your lower back?
Be your own best friend and check your body is at ease. Take a breath in, change position, settle.
It will help you keep an alert, focused mind too!
The last part of our Happiness Workout takes this process of checking our body a step further by stretching all our muscles whilst holding our breath. It will be a doodle in no time….
- Breathe in deeply and hold your breath with your lungs as full as possible.
- Whislt holding your breath, tense all the muscles you can think of (name them in your head if it helps) , tensing from the scalp down, the forehead, the jaws, the mouth, the chin, the neck, the shoulders, the arms, the chest, the belly, the buttocks, the legs, the calves, the feet…. You can raise your hands and lock your fingers above your head to help this process; you may choose to also raise your lower legs 90 degrees if sitting down to give your legs a good stretch.
- Breathe out and relax your whole body, releasing tension; if it helps, imagine the tension flowing out of your body, dripping down your arms and fingertips, spreading out from your legs and feet to be absorbed by the ground.
- Do this sequence - In Hold Tense Out - 3 times in total.
Remember your Ps and Q!
Implementing change requires Practice and patience and Thank Yous to yourself