Our blog post for this year’s World Mental Health Day comes from our founder and CTO, Martin Ferguson.
Another year has come around and it's Mental Health Day again! I hope everyone that is reading this is well and coping with the demands made upon them.
In my opinion everyday should be Mental Health Day. Caring for yourself shouldn't be a once a year activity as you no doubt realise – it's something we should do as often as we possibly can, even if your busy schedule allows just 10 minutes.
If all you can spare is ten minutes a day, one of the most effective ways of dealing with daily stresses and possibly acute anxiety, which is becoming much more common, are few basic breathing exercises. You can only imagine the jokes and ribbing I get when I discuss breathing exercises, particularly with my children, who are young adults in the early to late twenties.
Despite the joking around, it is a very serious business and an area of personal interest to me. One simple breathing exercise that has almost undoubtably improved the lives of many hundreds of thousands of people (if not millions) is as simple as:
- Sitting down in a chair (with reasonable back support) or cross legged on the floor, or meditation cushion - whatever you prefer.
- Sit as upright as you can - keep the spine straight, with your chin tucked in (see video) and your head neither tilted forward or backwards.
- As gently as you can, breathe in through your nose for 5.5-6 seconds and breathe out for 5.5.to 6 seconds (you can count silently in your mind if that helps or you can even use this app)
- The aim isn't to take deep breaths, but to gently inhale and exhale through the nose.
If you really want to hack (pun absolutely intended) your autonomic nervous system and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system (the rest and digest system that helps reduce stress and anxiety), you can simply place your index finger on your right nostril restricted the airflow to the left nostril and breath in for 5.5 - 6 seconds and out for 5.5 - 6 seconds.e
If you'd like to know more about the new science of a lost art, here is, in my opinion the best book written on the subject, of which I have read too many to count, "Breath" by James Nestor.
As I mentioned, breathing techniques and exercises are a particular interest of mine and I have used them to help in many difficult situations and also for healing a broken autonomic nervous system - effectively caught in a near permanent state of fight or flight. This is one of the many techniques I have learned and of course, I have also and continue to have support from trained medical practitioners, who help me manage Bipolar Disorder - Type 1.
I hope you can find the time and space to do something for yourself today and everyday, that helps you.