Mental health is a topic that needs more attention. Not just from pharmaceutical companies, but from everyone. That is why today we’ll give you our thoughts and a few exercises.
Mental Health Awareness Day
We believe that a holistic approach is the best way to balance mental health. If you do not sleep well, you wake up tired. If you are tired, you are less likely to take action. If you do not take action, you do not reach your goals, etc.
Like holding your breath, you have to stop the negative cycle. Breathing, in particular, is a great solution as our lungs are connected to our brain and heart through a part of our nervous system called the Vagus Nerve. That means we can directly influence both through our breath.
Now, let’s put this in practice. Here are three exercises that you can utilize throughout different parts of the day and in different occasions to help you stay balanced and keep a healthy mind.
(use in the morning or when tired/feeling sluggish)
The following breathing exercises energizes the body and cleanse the mind. The ancient yogi’s call it “Kapalbhati”, and it is commonly known as Fire Breathing:
- Sit on the floor with your hands along your sides
- Empty your lungs more than usual
- Draw as much air into your lungs as possiblez
- Blow the air out of your lungs in one fast blow by using your “stomach”
- Release the tension in the breathing muscles and let air passively flow in
Note: Make sure that the stomach moves inwards and upwards and not outwards, when you exhale!
Start with 10-15 repetitions per session and stop if you feel dizzy. If you are feeling rejuvenated, you can increase the speed and amount of repetitions.
(use during middle of the day or when you feel your mind is wandering)
Part of staying healthy in the mind is to sometimes also have a little fun and challenge yourself.
The following exercise shifts your focus from negative thoughts to reaching the magnificent blue skies above your head (forget about the ceiling for a moment if you are inside).
Here’s how to do the Sky Stretch:
- Stretch one arm up as far above your head as you can while you slowly breathe in
- Maintain the stretch if possible (lungs full) for 5-10 seconds
- Lower the arm while exhaling slowly and with control
- Switch the other side
If you can, stand on your toes to stretch the entire body. Repeat 10 times for a good stretch (and the chance to touch the sky)
Now switch to the other arm. Repeat 10 times on each side. When the arm is lowered, exhale slowly and with control. If you can, stand on your toes to stretch the entire body.
(use before going to bed or when you are feeling stressed/anxious)
The following exercise is what we call “Relax on Demand” or 1:2 Breathing. The purpose is similar to Box Breathing, which is used by military and firefighters to stay calm, but this one is easier to implement.
To perform 1:2 Breathing, you simply extend your exhale to twice the length of your inhale. So, if you inhale (through the nose) for 4 seconds, you exhale for 8 seconds.
The best way to do this is to exhale through pursed lips to slow down the speed of which air leaves your body.
The great thing about breathing in ratios is that you can adjust the length and the effect is roughly the same. If an 8 seconds exhale is too long, simply inhale for 2 or 3 seconds instead so you only exhale for 4 or 6 seconds.
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