A daily wellbeing ritual
for leading your body into
‘Rest and Repair’ mode.
Stress is an unavoidable part of our lives, however it is within our power to support our wellbeing by improving our stress resilience.
Today, we’d like to introduce you to a simple wellbeing ritual that makes building stress resilience into your life as natural as breathing.
This beautifully simple breathing ritual has the power to flip your nervous system from ‘flight or fight’ to ‘rest and repair’ in a very short space of time.
The breath is a connection between the conscious and unconscious mind. Usually the unconscious mind will control our breathing without effort, or even awareness, on our part. However, we can consciously control our breath if we choose to – slow it down or speed it up – and our body will respond accordingly.
This makes the breath unique; you cannot consciously control many other body systems that are the domain of the unconscious mind. It is a helpful to recognise the breath as a bridge between these two mental states.
When we are stressed our body’s response is to breathe in a rapid, shallow manner, providing a good supply of oxygen to the muscles and brain for our potential ‘flight or fight’ from a perceived threat. Adrenalin and cortisol are released, signalling to your body that you need to be ready for the fight of your life.
On the other hand, when we are in a relaxed state our breathing calms, becoming slower and deeper. Seratonin and oxytocin are the hormones that govern our restful state. Because there is no perceived threat, our body systems focus on health and wellbeing priorities rather than on survival.
Our body is hard-wired to associate rapid, shallow breathing with stress and slow, deep breathing with relaxation.
Let Your Breath Lead Your Body to Health
Therefore, by consciously lengthening and deepening our breath we can lead our bodies away from ‘fight or flight’ responses and into ‘rest and repair’ mode. Our heart rate will slow down, our muscles will relax, our immune system will strengthen and we will have more mental space and resilience to process and respond to stressful events.
THE RITUAL – Part One
This is such an easy well-being ritual. You simply commit some time each day to taking 10-20 slow, deep breaths.
Find a quiet spot (escape to the bathroom if necessary!)
Draw your attention to your breath without changing it at first.
Notice if your breathing is fast or slow, deep or shallow.
Now gently begin to take longer, deeper breaths – in through your nose until your chest and abdomen fill and slowly out through your mouth until all the air is gone from your lungs.
Put your hand on your chest or your belly and feel it rise and fal
Try holding your breath for a few seconds between inhaling and exhaling.
Don’t worry about your breathing. Just gently allow your breathing to slow and deepen. Your body will respond and relax in its own time.
After 10-20 breaths, allow yourself to feel grounded and centred as you move back into your day with grace and gratitude.
THE RITUAL – Part Two
It can be a helpful idea to combine this ritual with one of your other well-being rituals. Most busy women like thought of multi-tasking, especially when it comes to maximising their wellbeing.
You could combine the Bestow Beautiful Breathing Ritual with your Bestow ‘Time for Tea, Time for Me’ Ritual each day. Take a full 10-20 deep, slow breaths while your tea brews.
Or, you may like to do it in the evening before you write in your Bestow Blessings journal, as a way of centring yourself and connecting to your body.
Some people link this breathing ritual to everyday occurrences like sitting at the traffic lights, or waiting for the jug to boil. This can be a great way to signal to your body to breathe and relax.
It’s good to be proactive about doing this ritual every day as a stress resilience tool, but of course it is also wonderful strategy for ‘bringing yourself down’ following a stressful encounter.
Whatever is happening in your life today, just breathe.