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Posts Tagged ‘breathe’

Anyone else love saying good-bye to winter?  Warm spring days with the sunshine on my face, birds chirping, the smell of the flowers blooming, and a walk outside are some of my favorite times.  I also love the rainy spring days, the rainbows, and curling up with a good book listening to the rain on the roof.  Spring cleaning is also an important part of these longer days.  Whether it is planting flowers, organizing closets, or purging, there is always a sense of accomplishment as I re-order my corner of the world.

In November 2019, I began a “spring cleaning” journey for my physical and mental health.  I wanted to share with you some research and tips that have helped me as I have worked to bring the new-ness of spring into my daily life no matter the actual season.

THROW OUT THE TRASH. Be kind to yourself.  This may sound like a no-brainer, but it is not.  Over the last few years, I noticed myself becoming more and more critical and more and more judgmental, and not just to those around me.  I had become my own worst critic and was very unkind to those around me.  I am learning to be kind to myself and I am stepping back when the actions of others don’t make sense to me. Learning to be kind includes practicing positive self-talk, forgiveness, and taking it slow on a personal level.  Positive self-talk helps reduce stress, boosts confidence, and helps with relationships. I am trying to stop trash-talking myself. And for those around me, I am learning to ease off on the pressure I am creating for them to also fit in to a perfect mold. I am remembering to tell myself daily something I learned in middle school, “I am a very special and worthwhile person, and I deserve the very best”.

OUT THE JUNK AND IN WITH THE NEW. Let your breath help you to breathe in the good and breathe out the old. Our bodies are so amazing– we breathe even when we are not intentional about it. Yet, when I take moments each day to stop and slow my breathing and to let myself just be, my world reorders itself in to chunks I can handle. My self-care spring-cleaning has opened my eyes to the clutter I carry in my mind. I am learning that the past should stay in the past, I cannot change it.  The future has not happened, I cannot change it.  So now I am trying to live each moment of today being fully present and enjoying each moment.  My presence in a moment is my gift to me and those I am with.  When I feel my thoughts drifting to places that are cluttered, I stop and I breathe slowly in and out for 20-30 seconds. Controlled breathing can lower blood pressure, improve immune systems, increase physical energy, and increase feelings of calm and wellbeing.

FRESHENING UP THE SPACE. Add something that you need to your day—something that makes your heart sing.  As I began this reset of myself, I realized that I had stopped really listening to my body and to what I needed to be healthy. I am eating healthier and listening to how my body responds when I eat too many foods with carbs or sugars. For me, I become sluggish and angry.  I am exercising more regularly—yoga, walking, ZUMBA, stretching, and not sitting at my desk all day long. I am wearing more sparkles and colors and finding ways to look at myself with new eyes. I am listening to the music I enjoy. I am talking with my friends. I am opening up to the joy of the world around me. I am finding more gratitude.

I hope you are able to let the showers and sunshine of spring help you to find a space for rejuvenation and rest.  You are worth every second you spend in spring cleaning your personal and internal spaces.

Written by: Jami Dellifield, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Hardin County

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Franklin County

Resources:

Mead, E. (2021, February 18). What is Positive Self-Talk? (Incl. Examples). PositivePsychology.com. https://positivepsychology.com/positive-self-talk/

Publishing, H. H. (202AD, July 6). Relaxation techniques: Breath control helps quell errant stress response. Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/relaxation-techniques-breath-control-helps-quell-errant-stress-response

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I hope that you enjoy this blog post written by Ashley Barto, a dietetic intern at The Ohio State University. She shares her insights about yoga and relaxation.

The holidays are over for many of us. If not, they will be in the next few weeks. Are you hoping to be more “calm” in the New Year? If so, now is a great time to explore calming practices including breathing and yoga. My favorite way to stay grounded and grateful during this busy season is through Yoga. Let’s focus on two of the main parts of Yoga: physical poses and breathing. Use these techniques to help you regroup and stay grounded when chaos ensues. Yoga is for everybody and every body. It doesn’t require anything more than your own body and mind to incorporate yoga both on and off the mat.

Let’s start with the breath. For a long time, breathing has been connected to the relaxation response. This means that our breath is closely linked with the fight-or-flight response our body experiences while under stress. We can help to control our body’s response by taking control of our breathing. Slow, deep breaths help to shift our nervous system from a high stress response to one of control and calm. While there are many different types of breathing techniques, “Square Breathing” is an easy one that can be practiced anywhere. Start by inhaling for a count of 4, holding for 4, slowing exhaling for 4, and holding again for 4. Repeat this as many times as you like until you feel a greater sense of calm.

Yoga Pose

Mountain Pose

When you want to take your calming practice a step further, you can incorporate some simple yoga poses into your day. Typically, calming poses are ones that involve strong contact with the floor or ground – with your feet, legs, or even back. Even sitting in a chair with your feet on the floor is considering grounding. Standing poses such as “Mountain Pose” can be done anywhere and requires no more space than the spot you are standing on. The biggest thing to focus on is making contact with the floor and the four points of your feet.

Turning inward is another practice that helps to calm the mind. In yoga, one of the ways we do this is by folding forward. You can do this while you are standing, seated on the floor, or even in a chair. If your hamstrings feel particularly tight, simply take a modification of bending your knees so your stomach can make contact with your thighs. Another option if you are in a chair is to place a pillow on your lap.

Picture of Calm - rocks and flower

Focus on Calm

Finding just a few moments of quiet for some deep breathing or simple yoga moves can make all the difference in your mindset. Help keep your calm with these techniques and let us know if you’ve tried them!

 

 

Sources:

Harvard University; April 2018

https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/relaxation-techniques-breath-control-helps-quell-errant-stress-response

Sengupta P. Health Impacts of Yoga and Pranayama: A State-of-the-Art Review. Int J Prev Med. 2012;3(7):444-458.

https://kripalu.org/resources/benefits-forward-bends

https://kripalu.org/resources/get-grounded-mountain-pose

Written by: Ashley Barto, Dietetic Intern, Ohio State University, barto.21@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Marilyn Rabe, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, rabe.9@osu.edu

Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu

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