Reducing Mental Stress

It’s been a crazy past couple of years. Our world has changed a lot since the beginning of 2020, and we are beginning to get used to our “new normal”. For some of us, we're heading back to office life, in-person classes, and more activities in the public. If that group yoga class or after-school pick-up lane has left you a little anxious, you're not alone. Transitions take time.

Let's focus on weaving more relaxation into each day. This might be sipping an afternoon tea with a splash of a2 Milk™ 3.25% Homogenized Milk, taking a cat nap or focusing on your inhales and exhales. Use these breathing exercises to provide a sense of calm and focus when you start to feel stress building in your day.

Why should we focus on our breath?

Mindful breathing helps "build resilience to stress, anxiety, and anger", according to the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California at Berkeley. Working with our breath for just fifteen minutes each day is said to make it easier to remember to pause and take a deep breath when a difficult situation arises. This mindfulness helps us be more attentive in the moment and better able to manage the situation. So, let's work on our breath by learning more about taking focused breaths, exaggerated breaths and doing alternate nostril breathing.

The focused breath.

Simply redirect your mind to your breathing pattern. Notice when you're inhaling. Notice when you exhale. Don't change anything about your breathing cadence or depth. Simply notice. Notice you're breathing and what it feels like when the air flows past your nostrils. The rhythm of your breathing feels soothing, and soon you'll find the tension over a tough situation has decreased a bit so you can think more clearly and better manage your emotions. Need more tension release? Check out these productivity tips to help manage your stress.

The exaggerated breath.

For this breathing exercise, you'll want to intentionally make yourself comfortable by sitting or lying down. You might even close your eyes or fix your gaze on something that brings you joy, like a vase of flowers, a painting on the wall, or scenery out the window. Now inhale and silently count to three. Then, hold your breath for a count of two and finally exhale for a long four counts. Repeat. Do this several times to get in sync with your breath, decrease stress and clear your mind so you can think clearly about the situation.

Alternate nostril breathing.

This breathing technique is often taught in yoga classes to relax both the mind and body, in turn making you more focused and aware so you can mindfully give your attention to what lies ahead. This exercise is suited for those with clear breathing, and not managing an allergy flare-up, asthma, or COPD, according to Healthline. To give this a try, sit comfortably and use your right thumb to press down on your right nostril, then inhale through the left nostril. Your mouth is closed. At the end of the inhale, use your ring finger on the right hand to gently close the left nostril as you release your thumb. Now exhale through the right nostril. Inhale through the right nostril, press your thumb on the right nostril, release the left nostril and exhale. Repeat.

Make relaxation part of your daily routine to keep stress to a minimum. Practice breathing exercises for a few moments anytime you need to clear your mind so you can be more fully focused on what's happening around you. Find a cozy spot in your home to sit, have a soothing beverage by your side and take 10 minutes for yourself. Looking for a new hot beverage made with warmed a2 Milk™ to pair with your mindful moments? Browse our cafe-inspired tea and coffee recipes for delicious inspiration.

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