There are two types of breathing and each has a purpose. A thoracic or chest breath is a short intake designed to trigger your stress response and ensure survival. It’s about ‘fight or flight’, and it’s the way stressed people regularly breathe. A diaphragmatic or belly breath is an instruction to your brain that everything’s okay. It involves breathing deeply into the lungs, causing the stomach to rise and turning on the parts of the brain that enable you to think clearly, remain calm and problem-solve, which can’t work effectively if the stress response is switched on. Before you get out of bed in the morning, take 10 diaphragmatic breaths. Throughout the day, pause every 90 minutes and breathe deeply into your stomach for a total of 60 seconds.
Do you wake in the morning thinking about everything you have to do and worrying about being late? If you’re constantly fretting over what might actually be inconsequential, that becomes your mindset – one of worry and feeling overwhelmed – which triggers stress. To break this pattern, turn your attention to something positive – even if it’s just picturing the smiling face of your mum or child. At 90-minute intervals, cast your mind to that positive thought.
Your brain automates the things you do most, so if you’re always worrying or rushing, this will become a neural pattern. It’s important to break those negative patterns, and practice being constructive – doing things such as breathing properly or thinking about solutions.
Scrolling on an electronic device is a major disrupter of the brain, grabbing the attention only to scramble it. Flicking through Facebook might feel momentarily relaxing, but it’s over-stimulating the brain as it works hard to process all that information at the rate you are consuming it. Technology is essential, but it’s important to strategically allocate time off screen. Ideally, stop looking at screens an hour before you go to bed.
– 30-34, Wellington “My lack of money and inability to improve my financial situation causes me the most stress. To reduce it, I try to do things that relax me, such as gardening, reading and having a glass of wine.”
– 40-44, Wellington
– 65-69, Waikato-Bays
– 55-59 Auckland
– 70+ Otago-Southland
– 70+ Auckland