Let's Start with Breathwork: The Primal Relaxation Technique
Typewriter clacking away, pets scurrying around, children playing exuberant games--as a blogger living in Hamilton, this is the usual soundtrack to my creative effort. Add to this the constant specter of pressing deadlines, multitasking madness, and frequent Zoom interruptions from my adorable munchkins, Leo and Harper, and you might begin to understand the symphony of stress I sometimes orchestrate.
Yet, I've discovered an antidote to this relentless rat race, a primitive solution to modern madness: Breathwork. Now, to give you the full depth of breathwork's effectiveness, let me take you back to my younger days. I was an absolute ball of anxiety, always overthinking and overreacting. Simple things, such as responding to emails or handling phone calls, would cripple me with tightheadedness. Then one fine day, a chance encounter with an old yogi transformed my life.
Gentleman as he was, he shared with me the trick of Diaphragmatic breathing, or belly breathing as it's commonly known. This is how we naturally breathe as infants, but as we grow up, we tend to switch to the more inefficient, stress-prone chest breathing. Returning to diaphragmatic breathing brings back that original peace of mind.
The technique is simple. Position yourself comfortably, put one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Take slow, deep breaths, letting your diaphragm do the work. Make sure the hand on your belly rises higher than the one on your chest. Voila! That's really it but the effects are profound. Regular practice of this technique slows your heart rate and lowers blood pressure, significantly reducing anxiety and stress. I was skeptical at first, but after trying it out consistently, the difference is immensely palpable.
Venture into Mindfulness: Now You See, Now You Don't!
If breathwork is the primal, let's say mindfulness is the evolved relaxation technique! Picture this. As a blogger, numerous tabs of different colors and sizes scramble across my screen. It’s a bit like playing whack-a-mole, trying to keep up with them all. Yet just like the popular proverb ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,’ I've found respite from this freneticism through mindfulness.
Mindfulness taught me to acknowledge the chaos without tangling myself in it. It's all about awareness–being present in the moment and acknowledging experiences without judgement. Instead of frantically racing to put out little fires everywhere, I learned to calmly prioritize and focus my energy more effectively.
My introduction to the mindfulness technique was a bit of a sweet irony. After a typical day at the blogging wars, I would usually unwind by taking Scout, my golden retriever, for leisurely walks. It was during one such walk on an unusually tranquil evening in Hamilton, when I realized that Scout was teaching me mindfulness. She was absorbed in the moment, her senses focused on exploring her surroundings without worrying about the next moment. A lesson well delivered!
Developing mindfulness isn't difficult. Start by setting aside a few minutes each day for meditation. Focus on your breath, or silently name the parts of your body from head to toe, or visualize peaceful imagery. Notice your thoughts as they float by, but don’t chase them. Realize how transient yet impactful each moment can be. Cliche as it may sound, I promise you, it works. As a technique for reducing stress and anxiety, mindfulness is like having a mini vacation in your pocket!
I Say Yoga, You Say Relaxo!
Imagine a symphony where each instrument knows its part so well that, despite their diversity, they come together to construct a beautiful, resonating harmony. That's yoga for you! Rooted in ancient Indian philosophy, yoga is a comprehensive practice combining physical postures, breathwork and meditation. It's a smorgasbord of relaxation techniques all wrapped into one. And as a veteran blogger, I can attest that the benefits of yoga are myriad.
Managing the capricious nature of my blogging career, while ensuring my golden retriever Scout is well taken care of, and navigating being a dad to my two wonderful kids Leo and Harper, can sometimes leave me more twisted than a pretzel. Yoga, however, helps me unwind, both physically and mentally. The physical postures help improve flexibility, balance and strength, while the breathing techniques and meditation help calm the mind.
Yoga, much like a good friend, has been by my side during some of the most stressful periods of my life. In fact, it was during one such challenging phase that I discovered the restorative power of Savasana, or the Corpse pose. This involves laying flat on your back and completely surrendering, a symbolic and literal release I often turn to when the weight of my wide-brim hat seems too much to bear.
Stay Hydrated, Stay Zen
Now you might think, staying hydrated as a relaxation technique? Isn't that just basic biology? Well, you're not wrong, it certainly is. But as someone who's juggled writing columns, maintaining a Golden Retriever, bid wars in "Fortnite" with kids, and sought solace in as many cups of coffee as my sleep schedule permits, I can assure you, many of us forget this essential element of relaxation. And that’s where pure, clean water sweeps in, the quiet hero of our relaxation story.
Fact is, even mild dehydration can lead to physical discomfort, fatigue and stress. Sure, coffee helps me pull my all-nighters, but too much of it dehydrates the body. So next time you sip your brew, follow it up with a glass of water. Not only does it balance out the diuretic effects of caffeine, it also adds an invigorating freshness. It's like having a mini wellness spa right at your desk!
Speaking from experience, taking frequent water breaks not only keeps me hydrated, it also offers a fantastic avenue for a mini-mindfulness session. As I savor each sip, feeling the cool rush flow through me, it presents an opportunity for me to pause, reflect, and reset amidst my bustling schedule.
These relaxation techniques have been a lifesaver in navigating my delightful yet demanding life in Hamilton, New Zealand. Stress might be inevitable in our modern world, but it certainly doesn't have to be irremediable. So, the next time deadlines loom around the corner or the kids have you running around in circles, remember these techniques and give them a whirl–breathe, be mindful, unwind with yoga, and chuck down some crystal-clear goodness. Who knows, you might just find your zen amidst the chaos just like I did!