Mindset Made Simple Tip #36 – The power of your breath!
Read today’s tip to the end for a 7-day breathing challenge! I’d love it if you would join me!
I am not sure if you or your team need this tip this week, but I do! I woke up this morning with yet another sore in my mouth (no video recording for me again this week!), and that is a sign that something needs to change!
I was laying in bed last week, unable to sleep (I’m not the best rester in the world) getting increasingly frustrated. I am building online courses and have another HUGE project this week and my mind was getting the best of me!
Like we all do at times, I started to wonder if I was really able to do all I aspire to do. Doubting Thomas (who we talked about a few weeks ago) snuck in and was trying to set up shop!
I became more agitated when I started to think about the fact that I spend my days talking with athletes and teams and I am immersed in learning more about how our mindset affects our performance. Yet I laid there with thoughts racing and the inability to be still in the 6 inches between my ears.
This led me to attempt a breathing technique we use in pregame prep and other performance situations.
This DID NOT help the situation. It wasn’t the technique that was the problem. It was the implementer.
I was frustrated, tired and in an extremely critical state. As I laid there, I was reminded of my tendency to be a chest breather and my chronic issue of falling victim to that pesky negativity bias we are all wired with as humans.
So, instead of decreasing my heart rate and slowly falling into a beautiful slumber as is advertised by the world’s best meditators, I laid there wide awake.
At one point I finally had a productive thought. “This will be a great Mindset Made Simple Tip!” I was hell-bent on getting better at breathing and I hope my struggles can help you and your team use this amazing tool.
In a recent tip about POUNDING THE PROCESS, I mentioned my great-grandfather and his routine of hitting the first nail in a project the same way he hit his final nail.
My great-grandfather’s hammer was great for driving nails, but not so great for drilling or other tasks. Because of this, he had a bunch of other tools in his toolbelt to successfully complete the job.
Breathing techniques are not going to build a whole house, but they serve as another tool in our toolbelt, and we need a bunch to build a great performance or life!
This tool, like all others takes practice but can be used in a ton of situations to help our performance. The cool thing about it - it's like one of those tools that takes the place of a bunch of single tools.
Using our breath intentionally can produce HUGE benefits Here are just a few:
Decrease stress. Deep breathing slows our heart rate and increases oxygen in the blood stream. This signals our brain to relax and decreases the release of cortisol and increases endorphins – we move from the sympathetic to parasympathetic nervous system – from fight or flight to calm.
Help relieve pain. Since deep breathing triggers the release of endorphins, we feel better and this can help when dealing with pain.
Stimulate the lymphatic system. Breathing releases carbon dioxide which helps detoxify the body.
Control emotions. Deep breathing reduces blood to the limbic system (emotion or subconscious brain) and allows the prefrontal cortex (thinker or conscious brain) to take over!
Increase energy. The more oxygen that is in the blood, the better our body functions. It also improves our stamina.
Lower heart rate and blood pressure. As we relax, our heart rate slows and our blood vessels dilate. This improves circulation and lowers blood pressure. It also carries more oxygen to muscles which aids in performance.
Promotes proper posture. As we breathe deeply we lengthen and straighten our spine, our lungs expand, our intercostal muscles stretch, our diaphragm pulls down and we contract our core as we fully exhale. There are strength, injury prevention (in the core) and scap set benefits along with a general appearance of BIG POSTURE!
To get these benefits need to breathe a certain way! Breathe in through your nose (if you can). Let your belly fill with air. This may be the only reason we want to expand our waistline! There is some debate here, but you can breathe out through our nose or mouth. Place one hand on your belly and one on your chest. The hand on your belly should rise on the inhale. The one on your chest should not. As you exhale, expel all of your breath to the point you feel your core muscles contracting on the exhale. Suspend your breath before inhaling again.
You can use a 6 count in, 2 count suspend, 8 count out or a simple Vagus nerve rhythm of 2 in, 4 out. The idea is to exhale longer than you inhale. This is where you will notice the slowing of your heart’s rhythm.
I was so pleased this weekend. I was laying in bed and realized that the hand on my belly was moving and my hand on my chest was not! This is huge for me because I am a chest breather by default even though I learned these breathing rules in the early 90s from my CSU mentor - our amazing sports psychologist, Dr. Susan Ziegler (she knows I'm a slow learner !).
This improvement inspired me to challenge myself to a 7-day 100-breath practice. Want to join me?
Take 100 intentional breaths every day.
This is so simple. Maybe you’ll do 50 in one sitting (or laying) and then fit the remainder in throughout the day. Count 1 on the inhale, 2 on the exhale, 3 inhale, 4 exhale and so on to 100.
As Doubting Thomas sneaks in or that “to do” list starts to weigh on you, acknowledge that thought and get back to breathing and counting.
I know I need help with this and I hope you will join me in giving it a try for a week!
As for implementing this with your team, start the 100-breaths on the bus, in the hotel, in pregame and remind them to count and breathe when they need to get back to the present. It may be a 1 in, 2 out before they pitch, enter the game, shoot a penalty shot…
This is a great tool for all of us. You can see the benefits listed above…and this is not an inclusive list!
Anyone who has ever completed a home improvement project knows that having the right tools makes any job easier. We all use this breathing tool EVERY DAY, but we can use it so much more effectively and intentionally.
It’s time to kick off our 7-Day Breathing Challenge. If you want to participate, send me an email with CHALLENGE in the subject line to email@example.com or click HERE and click on the orange Get In Touch button to send me an email.
I’m on breath 31 right now…here’s to 69 more throughout the day! EMAIL ME NOW or subscribe to my site HERE - scroll down to SUBSRIBE and enter your info!
P.S. Need someone to talk with your team or organization about mindset practices, shoot me an email today! I would love to help make your team more effective and productive!
P.P.S. Coaches, if you are in and out of quarantine or need a positive activity to change things up due to cancellations, schedule a FREE STAFF or TEAM SESSION with me to talk about using the disruption to grow your team’s mental game
Certified Mental Performance & Mindset Coach
firstname.lastname@example.org • 234-206-0946
Be strong and courageous. Joshua 1:9