Now more than ever we need to be cognisant of how we treat ourselves; having a self-care plan in place is crucial to your physical and mental health. Ancient yoga practices enforce the importance of setting intention for each day and actively investing your energy in realising said intention. Through mindfulness and self-awareness we are given the opportunity to be present in the moment. But it is only once we have quieted our mind that we can really live in the moment and set intention.
Traditional methods of self-care such as physical exercise, healthy eating and the setting of healthy boundaries are absolutely necessary in staying healthy but I urge you to take it beyond these activities and further explore the power of breathing.
I appreciate how difficult it is to stay focused on only one thing when our minds are persistently thinking about the tasks and worries of tomorrow, next week and next month. This said, we can actually quiet our mind through our BREATHING! Yup, you read that correctly- BREATHING. It is what keeps us alive, right? By taking deep breaths we actively slow down the racing mind and begin to calm down and in so doing lowering the stress in the body. Repeated deep breathing naturally brings our heart rate level in line with our breath and more oxygen runs throughout the body. This primes the brain to release endorphins and it aids in our body functioning. Variations of breathing techniques can be used depending on individual needs but to make certain we get the most from the practice.
I feel that I should tell you before I began writing this piece for you today, I was listening to an episode on the Daily Breathe Podcast with Deepak Chopra available on Spotify. I thought it would be a nice touch to share with you how body felt during the meditation and deep breathing exercises, confidently giving give you an idea of what I am referring to in the content above.
To give you context, I was sitting alone in my study, sitting upright in my chair and my feet were grounded on the floor. I closed my eyes and mindfully scanned my body from the inside and I noticed a slight discomfort in my lower back, most likely from my most recent yoga session. As guided in the podcast, I was switching my awareness from the discomfort to the rest of my body, shifting my awareness. Next I returned my awareness back to my breathing- by placing one hand onto the chest and the other hand on my stomach allowing me to feel the movement and energy of the air through my body. I feel more relaxed now and I managed to set my daily intention- to finish this piece of writing.
We live in a rapidly changing world and therefore we must be responsible for taking action to slow down and to take care of our whole self, our whole being. The beauty of breathing is that it is not restricted to time or limited to a certain place. A short 2 minute breathing exercise can happen anywhere and is natural and not forced. Once you have found the right variation for you, it becomes easier to implement it anywhere and at any time you feel anxious or stressed. Mindful breathing can go a long way. You can do it at work or home, in the bathroom, in your car before school or work.
Listen to your body, it will tell you what it needs and what feels right. It is possible to set daily intention and stay connected to your body, mind and spirit. In my work as a wellness counsellor, I help clients design stress management plans and also plans for self-care and I have heard from them the benefits of mindful breathing. It goes without saying that from my personal and professional experience a successful self-care regime cannot exclude mindful breathing from its core elements to ultimate well-being.
Collectively, physical exercise, healthy eating, journaling, daily positive affirmations, following mantras and breathing exercises will result in positive self-reflection, self-awareness and self-love.
Happy healing! Enjoy the journey!
Claudia, an attorney of law by profession, is a global mental health advocacy leader whose passion for mental health was inspired by having personal experience living with a mood disorder. After undergoing treatment, Claudia chose to pursue a career in Psychology. When she was not working or studying, she spent her time volunteering at a local mental health counselling call centre. She currently works part-time as a registered wellness counsellor and also helps her clients with personal and professional development.
She is currently appointed full-time as the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Global Mental Health Peer Network, a registered mental health advocacy organisation.
In spite of the hardships she endured, she takes comfort from knowing that every day she gets to help people. She gets to speak up for and represent the voices and opinions of persons living with a mental health condition.
Making mental health a priority, she has created a closed Facebook group for persons struggling with their mental health which serves as a platform for peer support and which provides the opportunity for individuals to share their personal stories.