mental health

Relaxation Techniques

When a stress-generating event occurs, such as a lull in profitability, an order that's gone astray, or the resignation of your top performer etc. etc., we all know about the burgeoning anxiety that can cut across our business day. Then someone says, 'Just relax'!

Well, hello? ..........................

Actually, having a few relaxation techniques in our tool kit is a very useful thing and, of course, there are many. One of the key strategies on offer for whenever you're feeling particularly frazzled, scattered, and out of balance is simply to concentrate on breathing techniques. Like an anchor in the midst of a stormy sea, breath awareness is a balancing force for the mind, anchoring you in the present time.

When under stress, most of us tend to breathe in short, shallow breaths, primarily by expanding our chests. This thoracic breathing is not the most efficient way to breathe. Not only does it prevent the lungs from filling and emptying completely, it can also contribute to increased muscle tension. During stressful situations, it is especially important that we breathe from our abdomen, not just our chest. Abdominal breathing relaxes the muscles, massages the internal organs, and allows more oxygen to energise our system.

The ideal times to practice this breathing relaxation technique is when you are feeling tense or anxious or in need of energising your body or calming your mind. Just a few of these complete breaths are wonderfully calming and won't be noticed during a meeting or a phone call. This simple procedure is very effective:

1. Sit comfortably with your spine straight.

2. Exhale completely.

3. Inhale very slowly, allowing the breath to enter effortlessly through your nose. At the same time push out your abdomen as though it were a balloon expanding. Move your chest as little as possible.

4. After your abdomen is stretched, allow your chest to expand with air. This fills the middle part of your lungs.

5. Allow your abdomen to pull in slightly, and your shoulders and collarbones to rise. This fills the upper part of your lungs.

6. Gently hold your breath for a few seconds. At this point, every part of your lungs is filled.

7. Slowly begin to exhale through your nose. Breathe abdominally by lifting your diaphragm and allowing your lungs to empty. Proper exhalation releases used air and opens space for fresh air to enter.

Though at first this way of breathing may feel awkward, once you become familiar with this it, it can be done quite easily and comfortably. Try this link for more tips on the subject.

Ted Beecher
BLA Director

Offset some of the stress and strain of running a small business with a healthy diet

In recent blogs we spoke about the importance of establishing good sleeping and exercise routines to help offset some of the stress and strain of our business lives. To complete this 'good habit' cycle, it's time to give a few simple tips on diet.

THERE ARE FIVE FOODS GROUPS TO ENJOY EVERY DAY:

1. Bread, cereals, rice, pasta and noodles (include wholegrain varieties) 
N.B. Eat from this group in moderation if trying to lose weight!
2. Vegetables (include 5 serves a day)
3. Fruit (include 2 serves a day)
4. Milk, yoghurt, cheese (choose low fat dairy products)
5. Meat, fish, poultry, eggs and nuts.

It is also important to drink 6 – 8 glasses of water each day. Where possible, avoid soft drinks or high energy drinks including fruit juices – avoid sugar wherever possible.

Caffeinated drinks need to be kept to a minimum and alcohol avoided.

Here is a link to the government website, Eat for Health, for more detailed information on healthy eating.

Ted Beecher
BLA Director

 

The Value of Exercise When Anxious About the State of Your Small Business

There can be any number of signs that you are anxious about the state of your business, such as:

  • Withdrawing and stopping going out
  • Feeling overwhelmed, guilty and lacking confidence
  • Relying on alcohol or sedatives 
  • Just not getting things done!

Increased fitness can lift the mood. More to the point, an exercise regime is a helpful way to block negative thoughts, provide a distraction from daily worries, increase energy levels and, when mixing it with others, make people feel less alone.

Biologically speaking, exercise can increase levels of helpful neurotransmitters (chemical messengers in the brain) that may have diminished due to depression and anxiety. It can increase the endorphins which are the 'mood-lifting' chemicals in our brains.

So, where to start? 

  • Rule no. 1 : make it simple;
  • An hour's circuit training at the gym or 50 laps of the pool may be great for you but it doesn't necessarily have to be that strenuous a workout.  If you're not that way inclined, try walking, bike riding, gardening or just commit to a household maintenance routine.
  • Importantly, do what you find enjoyable (not what others may want you to do!) but, where possible, it's good to include other people and make it a group activity.
  • Make a workable plan but ensure it has sufficient flexibility so that it does not cause added stress to the distress that you may be already experiencing. 

There are a number of websites offering more detailed tips especially if we treat exercise as medicine.

Ted Beecher
BLA Director