Feeling Stressed or Anxious? Take a Minute to Just Breathe

March 30, 2021

Hadley McClellan

Hadley McClellan is the Founder of EvCon FITNESS, which matches event organizers with local certified fitness instructors to make it easier for event attendees to keep up with their fitness goals while at conferences at events. A certified RYT200 Yoga Teacher and the Senior Manager of the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston, Texas, Hadley has combined her two passions and expertise in yoga and conference management to connect events with wellness across the U.S.

My dog dreams a lot. He’s 16 years old and I’m convinced he dreams about his younger self running through fields and swimming in rivers. His feet and nails scratch the wood floors, kick the Roomba and slam into the wall. All of this while I’m four feet away wearing earplugs to drown out the scratching so it won’t wake me up and tumble me into anxiety. But it always does.

I wake up, readjust his position and climb back into bed. My eyes are closed but my brain turns on, thinking — about how I’m going to make a hybrid event I’m planning successful; about keeping my team motivated and optimistic; about my side business and the stress of flipping it on its head from “fit-working” to simply “connecting.” I realize I’m going to be running a day, a team, a conference and a business on only four hours of sleep. 

So I breathe, roll out of bed and stretch. I keep my yoga mat on the floor next to my bed so I can fall onto it. I find myself in child's pose. Connecting my forehead to the ground, arms out long in front of me and the tip of my nose feeling the cool sensation of the mat, I exhale. This is my grounding place, where I need to be to rest my mind while I safely and slowly wake up my body.

During the day, a difficult conversation has to be had with a co-worker. I’ve prepared and thought about it in advance and can feel the anxiety creep in minutes before the call. So I turn away from my computer and shut off the alerts on my phone. I find myself back in child’s pose again, on the mat that I keep close to my desk because my home office is also my gym. For a minute, I close my eyes and settle into my breath. It’s the last thing I do before I have that difficult conversation.

Many of us have adopted a host of ways to relieve our stress, curb our reactions, regroup and settle down from a long, busy or stressful day. But have you considered how many of these things are simply a way to distract from your mind? And did you know that you can do this during the day without breaking a sweat, opening a bottle or breaking into a bag of chips?

Here are my suggestions for the next time you feel the heat rising in your chest because someone didn’t read your email, or listen when you were talking, or when your event gets cancelled, postponed or turned virtual and/or hybrid:

  • Take a minute, or five or 20, whatever amount of time you can spare. 
  • Shut down your email and set your IM’s to Do Not Disturb. Make sure you won’t be interrupted by turning your computer volume on mute. 
  • Pick up your cell phone and repeat. 
  • The options of where to go are endless: stay in your chair, get on the floor, walk outside, whatever calls to you. 
  • If you want, set a timer on your phone, watch or microwave, or use counting as your guide, but set yourself up for the amount of time that you have available.
  • Now, close your eyes and exhale. Just breathe and be. 
  • Do it as many times as those “Can you chat?” or “I hope this email finds you well” notifications come through and you need a minute to regroup. 

According to an article, "Effects of Anxiety on the Body," “Long-term anxiety and panic attacks can cause your brain to release stress hormones on a regular basis. This can increase the frequency of symptoms such as headaches, dizziness and depression. When you feel anxious and stressed, your brain floods your nervous system with hormones and chemicals designed to help you respond to a threat.”

If you let anxiety build on top of the anxiety you haven’t dealt with, your central nervous system will feel attacked. When your body feels attacked, it fights. I have had to have cortisone shots in my neck, magnetic therapy, have come down with the flu and even a small case of pneumonia because I didn’t take the time to address my anxiety.

Mindful wellness is as important, if not more so than physical wellness. It’s about taking the time to be present, creative and consciously responsive rather than reactive. Setting yourself up for success means prioritizing your mental wellbeing, whether in the office or nestled in the comfort of your own bed. 

 

Want to try out a free online yoga class with Hadley? Her next 45-minute session will take place Thursday, April 1 at 7 a.m. CT! If interested, email her at: hadley@evconfitness.com

 

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