The Super Simple Stress Reduction Technique to try RIGHT NOW!
I’m a Type A East Coaster.
Thus, I am often stressed.
(Even though I’ve recently become a West Coast transplant, the laid-back California vibe has yet to rub off on me!)
But stress is no fun! And it wreaks havoc on your health.
In fact, I’ve been having a hormonal issue in recent months that I know is a direct result of my higher-than-average stress level. You see, the adrenal glands are raging kleptomaniacs/selfish brats that likes to steal all of the pregnenolone — a precursor hormone our bodies use to make both stress and sex hormones — away from the sex glands in order to make the primary stress hormone cortisol. This is aptly referred to as “pregnenolone steal” and happens because the body prioritizes the creation of stress hormones over the creation of sex hormones. Because which is more important when a lion is chasing you: “fight-or-flight” or a normal period? Even though this is very likely NOT the cause of our stress, that’s how our bodies perceive it.
So I’ve been employing a lot of stress reduction techniques lately.
I’ve been practicing a restorative yoga sequence at home, using adaptogenic herbs and teas, diffusing lavender essential oil frequently (especially to help me stay asleep through the night, which can be difficult if your prolonged stress has caused adrenal fatigue), and doing positive thinking exercises both alone and with my husband (basically we just talk about the good things that happened that day and things we’re grateful for before we go to bed).
One of my favorite stress reduction techniques is so simple and can be done anywhere: alternate nostril breathing.
I’ve done it in the car, on a bus, in an airplane, in a movie theater, in meetings, on the sofa, out at dinner… just about everywhere!
Here’s how it works:
Alternate nose breathing switches your body from the sympathetic (“fight-or-flight”) mode to the parasympathetic (“rest-and-digest”) mode.
Here’s how to do it:
- Wherever you are, try your hardest to relax. I know you’re stressed! But sometimes just knowing that I’m about to do a relaxation strategy eases some of my tension.
- Choose to use one of your hands. Take the index finger and cover one of your nostrils.
- Take a slow, deep breath in through the one uncovered nostril. Count as you inhale — I aim for 8 seconds.
- Then cover the other nostril (through which you just inhaled), and exhale through the nostril you were just covering. Again count as you exhale — and again, I aim for 8 seconds.
- Keep that same nostril covered and now breathe in through the nostril that you just used to exhale.
- Continue on!
It depends where I am and what I’m doing but ideally, I aim for 15 reps.
Tip: If you’re doing this someplace public, happen to be seated at a table (like in a meeting), don’t want to look odd/like you may be picking your nose, you can make it look as though you’re just resting your face on your hand while actually covering up your nostrils (using the outer edge of your pointer finger, between your pointer finger and thumb).
Have you ever tried this or another breathing exercise?
Have you found it helpful in reducing stress? Please share with us in the comments below!
I recently just started reading this blog and I love it! Thank you so much for all these great techniques. I use a different relaxation method of visualization to calm myself down after a stressful day, but I usually do it at night in bed as it helps me to fall asleep. I close my eyes and imagine myself at the top of a white staircase, leading down into a large white room. At the bottom of the staircase is the largest, comfiest, warmest bed I’ve ever seen. I take a deep breath in, and on my long exhale I take one step down. I do this for nine steps (nine breaths), and on each step I take, I relax even more and more. On my tenth long exhale, I fall into the comfy bed, feeling the most relaxed. I repeat this as many times necessary until my mind is fully cleared and I’m asleep! 🙂
Adrenal glands are so important to keep in check and often overlooked. I’ve never heard of this exercise but it sounds effective – looking forward to trying. Thanks so much!
Love alt. nostril breathing! My favorite relaxation technique is feet up the wall (and it’s variations) I am a yoga instructor specializing in individuals who have had surgery and injuries as well as those with high stree etc.
Lie with your spine on the floor feet up the wall (or calves supported on a chair). Place your hands on your floating ribs, mimic the weight of your hands and the movement you feel there, in your from body to that space in your ribs on the back body, i.e. Breathe into the back lower ribs gently, with out force. Allowing your ribs to move downward (some use a sandbag instead of their hands). Stay there with the natural rythm of your breath and curves of your spine for 3-7mins. This is a wonderful way to reset depleted adrenals.
Thanks for sharing, Inna! I will need to try this 🙂
Thank you for this post! Since you asked about other techniques: I have been practicing this easy breathing technique from Dr. Weill for several years, and it’s amazing. It is super easy and there is no need to cover nostrils if you think it bothers people around you. Dr. Weill describes it as THE MOST relaxing technique. As easy as 4 (inhale)-7 (hold) -8 (exhale): https://youtu.be/YRPh_GaiL8s