Picture used for illustration.
Do you find yourself feeling more anxious or stressed than usual? With everything that has been happening in the world, it is normal to feel that a sense of calm has eluded you. Your mind and heart may be racing more so than usual.
When we panic, our bodies crave more oxygen. That’s why, on a physiological level, deep breathing and meditation can make a difference, explained Kapil Nayar, a counsellor and mindfulness expert who grew up in Moorestown, New Jersey.
They don’t have to be complicated. Nayar broke down a few straightforward approaches to help you decompress. Two are breathing techniques; one is a 20-minute guided audio relaxation session, below.
Nayar recommends trying the breathing exercises for two to five minutes and to see how you feel; the best length depends on the person. Some may feel benefits in only two minutes; others may need more time.
With mindfulness, he said, you should bear witness to your emotions, accept them, then let them go. “Whether we realise or not, our subconscious is being receptive.”
Remember: This is a practice, and it takes time. “The frustration factor is always going to be there,” said Nayar, who said that meditation gets easier with consistency.
Lie down on the floor. Place a book on your stomach. Now breathe deeply and focus on lifting the book.
Try this three times, and when you’re able, build up to five times. Make it a goal to reach seven times. Pace yourself as needed. If you feel dizzy, don’t push it.
“The confines of our diaphragm kind of dictate how far we can inhale the exhale, and so we’re going to be really mindful of that and where our body pretty much physiologically stops,” Nayar said.
“What you’ll also notice is that the mind is going to start slowing down… That’s an indication that it’s working in the correct trajectory. With the practice, we’ll be able to assuage any type of emotion.”
Take a long breath over four seconds. Hold that breath for four seconds. Exhale over four seconds. Hold for four seconds. Start over. Nayar says that the timing is flexible.
Get comfortable. That might be in bed, that might be in a certain chair. Pick what works for you.
For this technique, Nayar has created a guided track. As you listen, close your eyes.
“If you feel like you’re about to fall asleep, go for it,” Nayar said.
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