Breathing Exercises: How Often Should I Practice?

Just. Breathe. 

 

Breathing exercises are some of my favorite strategies for managing stress. When you’re stressed, you can use your breath to not only stay level-headed but actually change your mood or emotional state

 

People often ask how long a breathing exercise or breathing practice should last. 

 

My answer? There’s no magic number! 

 

It isn’t about how many minutes you commit to your practice, it’s about how consistent you can be. So don’t put a time constraint on your practice, instead, set the goal to take deep, mindful breaths every day and make this practice a HABIT.

 

Here are some tips for helping your practice become a habit: 

  • Put a reminder on your phone. 
  • Put a post-it note reminder on the mirror. 
  • Make your breathing practice part of your morning or evening routine. 
  • Establish a cue. (i.e. Every time I hear the neighbor’s dog bark, I take some deep, mindful breaths.)  

 

The more you work to make mindful breathing part of your routine, the better equipped your brain is to access this strategy during stressful situations, and the more you can feel in charge of your stress and emotions. 

 

Watch this video for more strategies and download your DEEP BREATH DECK today!

Breathing Exercises: How Should I Sit?

Okay, so you know breathing exercises can help you calm down and get to a place where you can think critically and clearly about how to best respond to the stressful situations around you.

But do you ever wonder if you’re doing it right?

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about the “right” way to breathe and I want to share some of my answers, but I also want to emphasize a successful breathing practice isn’t really about doing it “right”; it’s about finding what works best for you!

That being said, here’s one of the tips I have for maximizing the benefits of your breathing exercises.

Start with your posture and position.

To fully access your deepest breath, sit up nice and straight:

  • Are your ears above your shoulders?
  • Are your shoulders above hips?
  • Have you uncrossed your legs?
  • Are your feet firmly on the floor?

And my final recommendation: Do you have one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest? As you breathe in, push your belly out into your hand, and as you breathe out, allow the belly to fall back towards the spine. The hand on your chest should have as minimal movement as possible, so you are using the belly to breathe deeply and access your sense of calm.

From there, you’re ready to begin your breathing exercise!

A beneficial breathing practice doesn’t demand perfect posture, but strategic posture will let you access the sense of relaxation and calm you’re seeking. Adjust your positioning as needed to feel confident and comfortable as you breathe.

Interested in more guidance on how to develop a regular breathing practice and how breath and movement can help you relax and focus throughout your day?

Watch this video for more strategies and download your DEEP BREATH DECK today!

Breathing Exercises: What if Sitting Makes Me Anxious?

You know I love my breathing exercises! But is there anyone out there who struggles with sitting completely still and focusing on nothing but your breath? 

 

I’ve found that during static breathing exercises some people may experience fear or feel anxious, awkward, or uncomfortable. 

 

And I am NOT about making people feel uncomfortable! But I also do not want anyone to miss out on all the benefits breathing exercises have on stress management.  

 

One suggestion you’ll often hear for people who experience some discomfort with stillness during their breathing practice is to “sit with it”. This means inviting those feelings of discomfort in and working through them as a means of practicing acceptance

 

If that “sit with it” approach works for you, GREAT!  

 

But what I’ve found, especially for those getting started, is just “sitting with” those uncomfortable feelings haven’t been the best option.  

 

So what has worked? 

 

Inviting in movement. 

 

If you’ve followed me for long, you probably heard me say, our “issues are in our tissues”. This means that stressful experiences get stored in our body, either as excess energy or tension. Movement can help us dissolve that stress and tension in the body, while also limiting distractions during our mindfulness practice. 

 

Try adding movement to your breathing practice by: 

 

  • Incorporating shoulder movements: When you breathe in, your shoulders come up; when you breath out, your shoulders come down and relax. Repeat as you continue to breathe. 
  • Incorporating hand movements: When you breathe in, ball up your hands into tight fists; when you breath out you, release and stretch out your fingers. Repeat as you continue to breathe. 

Hopefully, this tip can help you have a better experience with your mindfulness practice.

 

Watch this video for more strategies and download your DEEP BREATH DECK today!

 

Breathing Exercises: Should I breathe through my nose or mouth?

Nose vs. Mouth? 

 

When it comes to my breathing practice, should I be breathing through my nose or through my mouth?

 

This is one of those questions I get a lot when facilitating training with breathing exercises, so I wanted to share my thoughts about this. 

 

When you’re exercising or running, you’ll notice you often breathe out of your mouth. And this is great; it releases tension and exerts force. 

 

But then when you go to a yoga class, you’ll find they tell you to breathe in and out through the nose. 

 

Here’s why breathing through the nose is the common recommendation for mindfulness practices: 

 

  • Your nose has these mucus membranes with cilia. This cilia can filter out dust particles while retaining moisture and maintaining warth. 
  • The nasal cavity is smaller so it takes longer for your breath to escape. This slows down your breath and leads to deeper breathing which can help you activate your sense of calm. 

 

So for me? Yes, I typically breathe through my nose during my breathing exercises. 

 

But here’s the real advice: Do what works best for you! 

 

For some people, due to blockages or other issues, breathing through the nose just isn’t comfortable. That’s okay! That does NOT mean breathing exercises aren’t for you. 

 

The nose vs. mouth debate is actually a question of individual choice. Practice both and find which you prefer. Do what works best, take your time, and make sure you are breathing in a relaxed way. 

 

Watch this video for more tips about maximizing your breathing practice and download your DEEP BREATH DECK now!

Breathing Exercises: Should I Open or Close My Eyes

Should you keep your eyes opened or closed during breathing exercises? 

 

My answer: It depends. 

 

There’s some pros and cons to both, so you have to decide for yourself which approach you prefer.  

 

👍🏽  When you close your eyes, you can shut out distractions, better hear your breath, and be more present with sensations in your body.

(But you might feel uncomfortable or exposed when you can’t see your surroundings, or you might be unable to focus your mind.) 

 

👍🏽  When you keep your eyes open, you may feel more present with your surroundings, and you might be more comfortable and secure when you can see what’s going on around you. 

(But you may be easily distracted by your surroundings.)  

 

The key is finding what’s most comfortable for you! Alternate back a forth a few times to find if you feel more relaxed and focused with your eyes opened or your eyes closed. 

 

And here’s a tip for those who decide to keep their eyes open: 

  • Try bringing your eyes to a low gaze. Look at your belly, towards your feet, or a low spot in front of you. This can allow you to maintain an awareness of your surroundings while still keeping most of your attention on yourself. 

 

Eyes opened or eyes closed, the important thing is that you Just. Keep. Breathing.

 

Watch this video for more strategies and download your DEEP BREATH DECK today!

Coping with Burnout

Burnout is the emotional and physical exhaustion you may experience when you’re starting to feel powerless, overwhelmed, and have low satisfaction with the work you’re doing. 

 

Unfortunately, a lot of people are impacted by burnout and if left untreated it can lead to chronic mental and physical health issues. 

 

But fortunately, there are things you can do to prevent and cope with burnout. 

 

Here are 3 Rs to keep in mind if you are prone to experiencing feelings of burnout: 

 

Recognize 👀

Recognize your warning signs for burnout before you’re burned out. Pay attention to your symptoms so you can notice when these symptoms begin to appear. 

 

Reverse

When you start to recognize symptoms of burnout, seek necessary support and put stress management strategies in place. Strategies like breathing exercises, affirmations, and a strong gratitude practice can help reverse the impact of burnout.   

 

Resilience 💪🏾

Finally, take proactive steps to put tools in place so that when life and work become more stressful, you’re already prepared to handle it! 

 

Bouts of burnout may feel inevitable, but the truth is there are a lot of tools and strategies you can put in place to help prevent and cope with burnout.

 

  Learn more about these strategies in my Cost of Care Course.

Types of Stress: Burnout

Are you overwhelmed with work? Do you ever feel powerless at your job? Are you feeling more cynical or do you lack the energy to be productive? 

 

If you answered “ABSOLUTELY” to some of these, you may be experiencing burnout

 

Anyone in any line of work can experience burnout. But just because burnout can happen in any line of work, doesn’t mean it’s inevitable. The chronic stress that can accompany burnout has the potential to be quite damaging, so instead of accepting your feelings of burnout as part-of-the-job, you can learn to manage them

 

So what can you do to overcome burnout

 

  • Change your job!

 

Okay, yes. That is a great way to overcome burnout. But obviously, that’s not going to be a viable solution for a lot of us. 

 

Don’t worry. There are other ways to manage burnout. You can: 

 

  • Practice breathing exercises and mindfulness strategies.
  • Find a trusted colleague to talk with.
  • Implement self-care strategies.
  • Focus on your daily accomplishments and avoid criticizing yourself.
  • Practice. That. Gratitude.

 

Quitting your job IS NOT the only solution to burnout. There’s a lot of steps you can take to prevent and recover from burnout!

 

Find out more about overcoming burnout and enjoying your work again through my Cost of Care course.

Discovering The Mako Method™ (Our Framework for Managing Stress)

New Year – Same Me. 

 

The New Year isn’t about reinventing myself. But it is a great time to reintroduce myself, and for all of us, it’s a great time for re-evaluating our goals, our work, and our intentions for the upcoming year.  

 

I work as a stress management consultant helping people build resilience to the stress they are experiencing. I also work with teachers, mental health professionals, police officers, and others who work around stressed populations. 

 

My goals are to: 

 

  1. Help people manage their stress. 
  2. Help people teach these practices to those they serve. 

 

The foundation of my work is called The Mako Method™. This is my personal framework for building resilience to stress. The framework consists of different actionable strategies that I teach folks to help them navigate their way through stressful experiences.

 

When it comes to stress management, The Mako Method™ strives to: 

 

  • Make It Accessible: You don’t have to pay to go to a yoga class, or meditate for an hour – this framework consists of things you can do from anywhere on any budget. 
  • Make It Manageable: The framework is made up of actionable practices; exercises you can actually do to start managing your stress. 
  • Make It Work: The Mako Method is evidence-based strategies that have been proven to help people change the way they can process and perceive stressful information. 

 

The Mako Method™ has the power to change the way we process and perceive stressful information and ultimately change the way we respond to stressful situations. 

 

Watch the full video to learn more about The Mako Method™ and to learn more about my journey as an entrepreneur. 

And be sure to download my FREE Mako Method Guide to start taking control of the stress in your life. 

 

Establishing & Enforcing Boundaries for Helping Professionals

As a caregiver or helping professional, you give a lot of yourself to the people you serve. 

 

You give your TIME, your ATTENTION, your EMPATHY, your PATIENCE, and COMPASSION

 

You do this because you want to provide the best care possible for those you serve, and that’s awesome, but *WHEW* all of that giving can be quite draining. 

 

If you don’t learn to set AND enforce some boundaries, you run the risk of continuing to take on more & more responsibilities until you are no longer effectively able to serve because you’re bogged down by feelings of burnout, exhaustion, and possibly even resentment.   

 

But let’s be honest, enforcing boundaries can be tough. 

 

Here are 3 of my tips for establishing & enforcing your boundaries and protecting yourself from burnout and compassion fatigue: 

 

  1. Reflect and Prioritize – Make a list of the things you need time for in order to be happy, healthy, and able to provide care for others. Make these things a priority.

 

  1. Learn to Delegate. When you recognize you’re stressed or starting to develop feelings of anger & frustration, know that it’s time to ask for help! 

 

  1. Accept the Guilt, and Move On. Don’t be ashamed of feelings of guilt as you start to enforce your boundaries – that guilt’s a reminder of your generosity & desire to help! But don’t let that guilt trick you into altering your boundaries. Acknowledge feelings of guilt and then move forward with your boundaries still in place. 

 

Want to learn more about boundaries and making sure you can recharge so you can be more fully present and compassionate as you support others? Check my Cost of Care course!

 

Low Impact Debriefing

Do you ever feel like by the end of the day you’ve collected a bunch of stories you just HAVE to share? 

 

When your work involves helping others, there’s a high probability that you often experience or hear about difficult situations that you want to share with others. It’s completely normal to feel like you need to unload about your day. There’s even a name for it. 

 

Informal debriefing. 

 

But if we aren’t careful when it comes to this kind of debriefing, it can have damaging effects on the person we are sharing this information with. 

 

So here’s a tip: 

 

Breath before you debrief. 

 

Before unloading about your day, take a moment to consider how the weight of your collected stories may impact the well-being of others. It’s still important for you to share, but make sure to do it in a way that is considerate of the mental well-being of those you share with. 

 

Learn more about ways to protect yourself and those around you through low impact debriefing in our Cost of Care course.