Did you know that you can control your response to stress at work? It is called “controlled breathing” and it is simple to learn to do.

Let’s face it, work can be stressful! Not all stress is “bad.” Some stress is good and helps motivate us to meet goals and finish projects. But, there is such a thing as too much stress at work.

The American Psychological Association has told us that work-related stress doesn’t just disappear when you head home at the end of your day. When stress continues in the workplace it may lead to chronic conditions such as anxiety, insomnia, high blood pressure and more. Most of us deal with stress by “not” dealing with it. This can lead to bad habits such as overeating, eating the wrong kinds of foods or drug and alcohol abuse.

Controlled breathing is an effective way to manage stressful situations. Lowering your breathing slows heart rate, reduces muscle tension and calms emotions.

Laura Peterson, a registered nurse, says that breathing works with controlling the actual physical symptoms that go along with stress and the impact it has on our bodies. Breath work has other benefits, too. It can increase alertness and oxygen flow and allow your body to release toxins more readily. Although breathing is something your body naturally does, it’s also a skill that can be sharpened.

The breathing technique that I use and teach to employees during workshops is called “square breathing” (aka “box breathing”).

Square breathing is a simple technique that a person can do anywhere, including at a work desk or standing in a relaxed position. Here’s how you do it:

1. Close your eyes. Breathe in through your nose while counting to four slowly. Feel the air enter your lungs.

2. Hold your breath inside while counting slowly to four. Try not to clamp your mouth or nose shut. Simply avoid inhaling or exhaling for 4 seconds.

3. Begin to slowly exhale for 4 seconds.

4. Repeat steps 1 to 3 at least three times. Ideally, repeat the three steps for a few minutes, until calm returns.

It may take some practice, but with an investment of a little time you will find benefits and a calmer, more focused “you.” More information found at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321805.php.

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