Why I Can't Stand Breathing Exercises and That's OK

by Liz Shepherd
Stereotypically, how do you achieve calm and a stress free life? Any quick Google search starts with yoga, mindful meditation, calming sounds, nature walks, and just breathe, here are 10 breathing exercises and don't worry it's hardwired into your Fitbit too. Just breathe in time to the vibrations and magically you'll be all better.

Dive a little deeper into Self-Reg and you'll know that these are one size fits all approaches to reducing stress. Although these can be fantastic ways to Respond (Shanker Self-Reg Step 5 preemptively building up your energy) or great tools in the moment to Reduce stress (Step 3), for some they do the opposite and burn more energy than they generate, exacerbating your level of stress.

I use breathing exercises as an example for me, as I find restricting my air supply is a sure-fire way for me to go from teetering on red brain to going full-blown limbic. It's a significant biological stressor for me. Breathing is such a vital part of existence, I panic when I don't have enough air, or even it being out of sync and having too much. My brain and body go "ahhhh! Something's not right! Panic to survive!". Also when doing timed breathing exercises and I find I can't match the timing I oddly feel guilty or uncomfortable that I got something so simple wrong.

Thanks to going through Foundations and now working through Facilitator's I know that I'm not the only one. That many others personally don't find stereotypical calming methods calming, but rather energy zappers which edge you closer to red brain, increasing how stressed you feel.

Which classic calming techniques work for you? But also as importantly, which don't? And how can you accommodate that and allow flexibility for yourself and others in your personal and professional lives?

Liz Shepherd
Director, Operations
The MEHRIT Centre