Out of all the days in the week, we most dread Monday – and in particular, the Monday morning. A fun and relaxing weekend ends up being rudely disturbed by a blaring alarm clock. It’s time to hurry into the shower, get dressed and, for some, get the kids out of bed and fix a quick breakfast.
3 Relaxation and Breathing Techniques To Start The Day
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Just the mere thought of it all can send some of us into what is called “Monday anxiety”. The laundry list of things to do in a short timespan, followed by a stressful day at the office, is, unfortunately, a great way to activate the “Fight or Flight” response.
What can you do to combat these feelings of stress and anxiety for the day to come?
The answer may be a surprise (and shock!):
Set the alarm clock 5-10 minutes earlier (and don’t forget to set a 2nd alarm – in case the relaxation part of these exercises work so well you fall back asleep!)
That’s right. Set your alarm clock a few minutes earlier, but don’t jump out of bed yet. Instead, use this time to do the following relaxation and breathing techniques.
These relaxation and breathing techniques will help you calm down and into the “Rest and Digest” mode. You’ll be able to think more clearly and feel less rushed. Now, you can actually accomplish what you set out to do – and if you didn’t, you’ll likely won’t fret about it.
All of these exercises can be practiced in bed. Depending on how you sleep, you may have to change position. These techniques work best if you lay flat on your back with your arms slightly positioned away from your body and your legs slightly spread. Let your feet drop to the sides and open the palms of your hands.
Ecstatic Joy is a visualization and relaxation exercise that uses the power of the mind to get you in a better place.
Close your eyes and remember an important, special event in your life that overwhelms you with positive emotions. It’s okay if you have to dig deep and go back to your childhood.
Examples of events that may work for you are an impressive triumph in sports, your wedding day, the birth of your first child or the day you graduated from college/university.
Relive the moment as vividly as possible and pay attention to your body. How are you feeling and where do you feel it in your body? Do you feel a tingling sensation or feel warm in the belly?
The more you practice Ecstatic Joy, the more powerful and faster a response you can evoke.
1:1 Ratio Breathing
1:1 Ratio Breathing is a breathing exercise that balances the central nervous system. If you are stressed and in the “Flight or Flight” mode, it will calm you down. Likewise, if you are a bit lethargic, it will boost your energy levels without getting you overwhelmed.
To perform 1:1 Ratio Breathing, you balance the length of your inhale with the length of your exhale.
Your breathing pattern will look like this:
Inhale: 4 seconds
Slight pause: 1 second
Exhale: 4 seconds
Slight pause: 1 second
While you are doing this breathing exercise, it is recommended to combine it with belly breathing. Place your left hand on your abdomen and the right hand on your chest.
Inhale deep in the belly and count four seconds… 1-2-3-4…
While you inhale, your belly and the left hand will go up while the right hand stays still.
Now, exhale slowly… 4-3-2-1…
The belly and left hand will go down while the right hand continues to remain still.
Inhale through the nose. If exhaling for 4 seconds is challenging, exhale through the mouth so you can use your lips to extend the exhale.
Do 10 rounds of 1:1 Ratio Breathing (approx. 2 minutes) to notice a real shift in the state of your nervous system.
Alternate Nostril Breathing
Alternate Nostril Breathing is another great breathing technique that balances the nervous system. This technique also has the added benefit of cleansing the nostrils which are an important defense system against bacteria and viruses.
In Alternate Nostril breathing you inhale through one nostril and exhale through the other – only to turn it around.
How to get started:
First, get your hand in the right position:
- Place the right hand in front of you and bend your index and middle finger to the palm of your hand.
- Move your hand up to below your nose.
- Your thumb can now shut the right nostril, while the third finger and little finger can shut the left nostril.
Now, perform Alternate Nostril Breathing:
- Exhale through both nostrils
- Shut the right nostril and inhale through the left
- Open the night nostril and shut the left while you exhale
- Keep the left nostril shut and inhale through the right
- Close the right nostril and exhale through the left
Perform 10 rounds of Alternate Nostril Breathing and notice how you feel more relaxed and energized at the same time!
More relaxation and breathing exercises
These three relaxation and breathing exercises are just a small sample of techniques you can use to start your day better.
If you still notice feelings of stress and anxiety, you may want to try 1:2 Ratio Breathing (where you extend the exhale to twice the length of the inhale). This will have an even stronger soothing effect on the nervous system and the mind.
Keep in mind that in the morning, deeper relaxation may not always be better. After all, you do need to get out of bed sometime 😉
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