Taking on Stress – One Breath at a Time

Too much to do and not enough staff to do it? Not seeing eye to eye with your organization’s board of directors? Lengthy funding applications with no guaranteed pay off?

Stress is part of our daily lives, especially for those of us working in the nonprofit sector. Stress may leave us feeling overwhelmed and unable to focus. Our bodies tense up and our breath becomes shallow and rapid.

It’s time to pull out our wellness tools to bring us back into balance! A wellness tool is something that we can do to enhance our state of well-being. Luckily for nonprofit staff, these tools are often simple, effective, and inexpensive. One such tool is our breath.

In the ancient art of Yoga, the study of breath is called pranayama. Mindful breathing can help us focus our busy minds and relax. Not only does deep, full breathing indicate a relaxed state, it can also help create relaxation.

To come back to a relaxed state, try this easy breathing technique at your desk, on a break, or at home. You can be seated, standing, or lying down.

  1. Inhale slowly into the nose; draw the breath down into the belly.
  2. Exhale slowly out through the nose or mouth. The exhale may leave from the bottom of the belly or from the upper chest. Just go with what feels effortless.
  3. Repeat this for as long as needed. Notice the relaxed sensations from mindful breathing.
  4. Try this variation: add a visualization of thinking of something positive on your inhale releasing a negative thought or muscle tension on your exhale.

by Christine Naidu and Sam Kriviak

Christine Naidu is a mother, educator, writer and working woman. She is a long-time Yoga student/teacher and a WRAP Works certified facilitator (http://www.wrapworksprogram.ca/).

Christine knows that life has joy, curveballs, and the “shitake” can hit the fan. She is a work in progress and seeks to know thyself, uncover her calling, embrace discomfort, and keep taking leaps in life.