Feeling Stressed? Try this Tactic used by U.S. Special Forces to Find Relief

Square breath

Over the past couple weeks, the entire world has experienced massive change which has affected each individual, family and community very uniquely. It is undeniably a tender time. It is more important than ever that we take the time to take care of ourselves and each other as the world moves through the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are all interacting with the unknown in exaggerated, emphasized and unique ways that can have a tendency to invoke anxiety, fear and many other emotions.

Below are some of the most effective and efficient ways to release anything that you are ready to let go of, whether that may be fear, lethargy, anxiety or heaviness. Give yourself a vacation from those intense emotions with these tools to provide relief from intense emotions:

1. Try Square Breathing, Special Forces approved: Square breathing (also known as box breathing) is one of the quickest ways to draw your awareness into your body and to simultaneously invite a sense of calm and centered focus. This breath is actually used in training special forces to remain calm and steady while under immense stress. Box breathing has brought relief to public speakers, surgeons, moms of teething toddlers and beyond! Some of the potential benefits you may notice are reduced anxiety, reduced pain, lowered blood pressure, improved sleep and beyond. 

Try it right now: Square breathing is quite simple. Imagine that you are drawing an imaginary square with your breath with holds between the inhales and the exhales. You inhale for a certain count, hold for the same count, exhale for the same count and then hold again for the same count. A count of four is common and powerful. Continue to breathe like this for a couple minutes and notice how you feel. 

2. Turn your bath or shower into a mini retreat: Many people turn to an epsom salt bath when feeling the need to unwind, as there is nothing like hot water and steam to soothe sore muscles and rapid fire thoughts. Think about stepping up your bath routine so it becomes a mini retreat.

Even just this shift in perspective to a mini retreat can make a bath feel deeply nourishing, allowing you to turn your inner dial to soak up some self care and self love.

Try it right now: If you do not have a bathtub you can absolutely create a healing shower mini retreat, too! Other ways to turn baths into mini retreats are to include bubbles, soft relaxing music, all overhead lights out, candles lit, a fancy beverage in a fancy cup, berries or chocolate, safe essential oils, no phone or electronics, self massage, and even some gentle bath yoga. Pick a couple of the options above or make up your own and soak up your own mini retreat. You deserve it.

3. Take Taylor’s advice and Shake it Off. Taylor Swift may tell us to “shake it off,” and there is so much wisdom in this expression. There can be a tendency to freeze when we are afraid, anxious or unsure of what is happening around us. For those of you who have experienced a Qoya class, you are very familiar with shaking as well as the story of the gazelle and the hungry lion.

Shaking is a very powerful way to release anything that you are ready to let go of. In my own experience, shaking is the most efficient way to clear lethargy and heaviness from my body. Animals innately shake as a reset button, and we can too.

Try it right now: Watch this video on shaking with the founder of Qoya, Rochelle Schieck, to see if you can use shaking as a tool to return to the wisdom of your own body! 

4. Start or continue your Journal Practice: As we move through these unprecedented times, it is the perfect opportunity to either start or continue journaling. Whether journaling is familiar to you or not, many find it to be a very supportive practice as it offers a place for you to show up just as you are, and to express yourself honestly and completely. Many people find that they clarify how they feel through their writing and often close their journal with a clearer idea as to how they truly feel and what they need. This is not the goal, but often a byproduct. 

The only goal of journaling is take the time to express yourself honestly and fully, whatever that looks like. There can be a tendency to embrace positive emotions and to push away heavier emotions. 

Try it right now: Take a few minutes to express yourself. Your journal is a place to honor the entirety of who you and the full expanse of your emotions and feelings. Some folks prefer to type up their journal on their computers, others have notebooks or leatherbound journals, other folks prefer to create an art journal through collage, painting, drawing, etc. What is most important is that you follow what feels best to you and simply see where it leads. 

5. Try the Breath of Joy. As you might guess from the sound of it, Breath of Joy deeply clears and opens up the body. Its effects are tangible after the very first breath as this breath opens us up to the experience of joy of breathing and being alive.

Try it right now: To practice Breath of Joy you will separate the inhale into three different and equal parts, first the bottom of the lungs, then the middle and then finally the top. From here, you will exhale once fully a “Ha!” sound.

What has been made very clear is that we are a global community and that we are all in this together. As we all move through these times and into the unknown, may we all remember to allow ourselves and each other plenty of space to express ourselves fully and completely, that we remember the tools that we have, and that we have the curiosity to try out some others. We certainly are aware of our lack of control in the situation. What we can control is how we respond, how we treat ourselves and our families and how we choose to move forward moment to moment.