When you take a breath it's a unconscious action, meaning the body does it for you without you having to remember to do it. But switching this to a conscious moment can help de-stress your mind and body...even as you stay sitting at your desk.
As well as taking oxygen to your cells, breath is also both an indicator of and a feedback mechanism for stress and mood.
The word “spirit” even comes from the Latin word for breath, spiritus.
Until I did my yoga instructor training, I never quite understood this, or that to a degree we can personally take steps to lower blood pressure, reduce stress and sooth the central nervous system by altering the pace and quality of our breath.
The moment my incredible teachers got me to ‘tune in’ (as they love to call it) to my breath, I felt like I was sighing out a gigantic cloud of tension.
This is important for more than just your sanity, because reducing stress and tension can have a tangible impact on the quality of your eggs.
1. When events in your life or work make you stressed out or anxious, the body's 'flight of fight' response is activated.
2. This causes a whole cascade of actions in the body, including the release of cortisol (implicated as a red flag for fertility) and the redirection of blood to your muscles, the parts of us involved in immediate defence.
3. This is problematic, as it simultaneously results in reduced blood flow to less critical areas...including: your ovaries. Good blood flow to reproductive organs has been linked to better outcomes in almost all aspects of fertility.
4. The problem isn't with occasional bouts of stressful experiences, its with the chronic stress many of us endure through a package of causes and lifestyle choices in modern life.
Here’s a quick exercise to practice when you’re at peak FML...
Step One: Prepare
* Sit comfortably and quietly, palms resting upwards in your lap with your eyes closed
*Take a deep breath, lift your shoulders towards your ears
*As you exhale, roll the your shoulder backwards and allow your shoulder blades to slide lower down your back
Step Two: The Exercise
* Place one hand on your chest over your heart and the other on your belly
* Breathe in deeply for the count of 5 (letting your belly expand out into your hand)
* Breathe out slowly and steadily for the count of 7, feeling your belly contract as it expels the air
* Repeat x 5
When you’re finished, try to keep that same conscious connection to your breath as you go about your day.
You can slot this short exercise in anywhere - when you wake up, at your desk, or do it before bed and feel the difference in your sleep.