Overcome Overwhelm: Biohack (1 of 3) to Break the Cycle of Stress
Are you over it yet?
The feeling of being overstressed, overanxious, and just plain overwhelmed? Are you ready for a change?
I hope so.
The reason I hope so is because there is so much goodness you want to give the world. And the world needs you to be able to give that goodness.
But frankly what the world needs first is for you to feel better. We need you to live each day feeling more sound and steady.
More rooted and relaxed.
It doesn’t serve your family, your friends, your congregation, your coworkers, your classmates for you to be on edge. Your constant thinking about and planning for and rushing to the next thing is keeping you from having the kind of impact in your circle of influence that you are capable of having…and again, that your circle needs you to be having.
Overtime living with your nervous system overstimulated can lead to indigestion, constipation, night sweats, nervousness, irritability, muscle tension, increased inflammation, and a weakened immune system. And I can tell you from experience, those symptoms aren’t fun.
I can also tell you that those symptoms are signs.
And the message that is blaring is that your body is being drained and you better do something to support it now or else a bigger breakdown is coming.
Maybe you’ve heard of some of the bigger breakdowns…like heart disease, depression, and chronic pain.
Here’s the deal…going through life feeling on edge, or frazzled, or too busy, or however you frame it, comes with huge costs.
Costs to your personal relationships, your service, your career, your hobbies, everything.
So let’s biohack this issue. What do I mean by “biohack”?
Let’s get leverage over your nervous system, dial down your stress response, and change how you move through and beyond challenges, setbacks, disappointments, and wounds.
Biohack #1: Breathe from your Belly
Yes, I know. You’ve heard this before. But the fact is it’s the fastest, most effective way to overcome overwhelm.
The state of your breath reflects the state of your nervous system. When you’re feeling stressed, the sympathetic nervous system goes to work in the way of breathing that is shallow, uneven, concentrated in the chest, and rapid…so that we are ready to fight or take flight.
But not only does the breath reflect the state of the nervous system, it also can provide feedback TO the nervous system.
By taking full breaths, from the belly, we send signals to our nervous system that it’s not necessary for us to run or fight off a tiger right now…that it’s OK to downshift into what should be our natural state: rooted and relaxed, moving through life in the rest and repair mode.
Let’s do it together.
Right here. Right now.
Sit with an elongated spine. Relax your entire face, your eyes, cheeks, and jaw. Feel your forehead smooth and the space between your eyebrows broaden. Let your shoulders melt down your back.
Become aware of your breath and softly close your eyes. Just let your attention rest on the normal, natural rhythm of your breath, in and out through your nose. Stay here for a few cycles of breath. (Don’t worry - I’ll wait.)
Often, by simply noticing the breath it will deepen.
If that’s not what your breath is doing that’s OK - consider it really good information about the state of your nervous system and experience it without judgement.
Now, place one hand on your stomach. On your next inhalation, allow the belly to expand into your hand, as if a balloon were inflating. On your exhalation, allow the stomach and lower abdomen to move inwards toward your spine.
Inhale, your belly and hand expand outwards, in three dimensions.
Exhale, your belly contracts as you completely let go of all the air inside.
Continue inviting the breath into the lower belly as you inhale and letting the belly fully deflate as you exhale. When you breathe from the lower belly, your nervous system understands that there is no emergency and that it doesn’t have to be all jacked up and in a tizzy.
Continue breathing with an attitude of ease.
Now, grab your phone or go to your computer and set a gentle-sounding timer to remind yourself to take at least three 1-5 minute breathing breaks throughout the day.
Then, listen to a hour talk I gave on feeling more emotionally grounded by clicking HERE.
It might take some time to retrain your body to breathe from your belly, rather than your chest. Keep practicing. Overtime your body will remember the deep nourishment that is available so quickly and effortlessly through lower belly breathing.