Chef Network is working on a range of initiatives that address ways that we can improve our industry. One area we are looking at is improving the health and wellness of chefs and later this year we will run a series of practical workshops on this topic. In the run-up, Wellness Coach Maria Caldwell will share a series of short blog posts with practical tips on dealing with stress and improving health & wellness.
How many times have we said this to someone who's having a bad day - whether they're angry, or sad, or in a stressful situation?
How many times has someone said it to us?
I say it to myself daily! Just breathe.
It’s the most readily available tool we have in our self-care toolkit. And it’s free. We carry it with us wherever we go, and we don’t need any special equipment in order for it to work.
Right now, STOP everything you are doing.
Take a long big full belly breath in through the nose. At the top of the inhalation, pause for 3 seconds. And now fully exhale slowly through the mouth - fully relaxing everything on the exhale. At the end of the exhalation, again pause for 3 seconds. And now repeat 3 or 4 more times. If you wish, close your eyes while you do the rounds, opening them again when you finish.
Now, how do you feel? Calmer? More relaxed?
My own teacher and mentor calls this a breath snack! I love the term - because its much like a snack we have to give us a lift until the next main meal; a breath snack like this can help us during the day if we are tired, overwhelmed or stressed - helping us to achieve calm and clarity.
So, how does it work?
Unfortunately, in today’s fast-paced world, most of us are in an almost constant state of "fight or flight" with an overactive sympathetic nervous system. In this state, the stress hormones are elevated and even though we may not be fully aware of it our breath is typically shortened and faster. The breath is typically up higher in the chest, and physical tension builds in the body.
Slow, full, deep abdominal breathing helps to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, or what is often referred to as the "rest & digest" system. In this rest & digest phase, stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline are lowered, the heart rate slows, and the body relaxes.
In as few as 3 or 4 breaths like the ones you’ve just tried, this rest and digest response is activated.
If you can start and end your day by taking 10-20 of these kinds of breaths, it also gives you the benefit of small mindfulness meditation, as you connect with each inhale and exhale.
So, enjoy your breath snacks. Regularly.
About the Author:
Maria Caldwell, Green Wave Wellness
Maria Caldwell is a yoga teacher with almost 15 years experience teaching public, corporate and one-to-one classes. Her classes incorporate a mix of movement, breathwork and meditation. She teaches dynamic yoga, restorative yoga, yoga for sports, and practical mindfulness.
In 2015 she qualified as Health Coach - certified by the American Council on Exercise, where she is currently studying a specialism in Nutrition for Fitness. She has a 360 approach to wellbeing - movement, nutrition, mindset and rest.
In addition to yoga, she likes to surf, hike, lift heavy weights and cook!
Find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram