It has all happened to us, the moment when everything seems to going wrong & somehow it gets even worse! Whether it happens at home, the office, or a general public area, the moment you want to release the frustration, it seems like there is always a crowd waiting to see it happen!
My Stressful Moment
Ok, I get stressed from time to time…perfectly normal if your are human 🙂 The most memorable time when this happened to me was while running a full marathon (26.2 miles). It was the 2013 Chicago marathon & I was moving along around the 20-mile mark. As many marathon veterans/experts say, 20-miles is usually the time when things start to “fall apart.”
A few miles earlier, I started to feel a little twitch in my right leg, but thought nothing of it. Well, it magnified just at the right time *sarcasm*, the 20-mile mark. What started as a twitch turned into full-on cramping starting in my right leg & gracefully moved on to my left leg as well.
To recap – 20-miles into a marathon, my legs basically gave out. This is when the stress & anxiety kicked into full effect: I had trained so hard for months, I was on a personal-best pace just before the cramping, & I was starting to give up!
Breathe – The Stress disappears!
About 2 months before the marathon, I read an article about breathing & relaxation and how it applies to running. The article offered tips about when to exhale/inhale on certain times of the running stride. One of the great pieces of advice was when there is moment of pain with a foot or leg injury, exhale your breath when the injured foot strikes the ground (and continue the pattern until pain minimizes).
From this advice, I started to use this breathing technique during my runs. It took some time to fully grasp, as I had to watch my breathing pattern with precision…BUT IT DOES WORK!
When the breath is held in your body, it acts as a “tension” since your body tightens up & air does not circulate efficiently. Exhaling the breath releases the tension helping muscles relax and getting oxygen into the bloodstream.
Back to the marathon – that moment when the panic started to set in, I quickly kicked into the Inhale/Exhale mode. Over the next few minutes, the cramping that was giving me so much pain eventually disappeared! I did end up finishing the race in personal-best time & qualified for the Boston marathon (score)!
As I was starting to build stress & anxiety, I was not focused on breathing, which I unintentionally was cutting off oxygen into my body. This is a common scenario when humans get stressed, we focus on the inhibitor causing the stress/anxiety while not paying attention to controlling our breath. Control your breathing to help control the mind
Easy Tips for Breathing & Stress
-Inhale deep breath through the nose for 3-4 seconds, slowly exhale through the mouth
-Start the day with 5 minutes of controlled deep breathing with eyes closed. Consider it an investment for the rest of the day
-When in moment of stress, ask yourself “Is it worth stressing over?” Stress is caused by our personal response to situations. It may be stressful to you, but another person may have a different reaction. Individuals choose what is considered stress, not the environment
Hope this post gives you food for thought & keep on breathing!
Make Today > Yesterday