Tag Archives: Dealing With Stress

Better Breathing for a Better Life (VIDEO)

Screen Shot 2013-07-05 at 1.33.10 PMWhen you find yourself in a situation where you get stressed, frightened or caught off guard, what’s the best thing to do?

Scream? Sometimes. : )

But seriously, what did mom or grandma or your loved one tell you to do?


Yes, it’s as simple as that.

But time and time again, while walking around the streets of San Francisco (and while being in the car with certain eh hem, friends with road rage) I witness screaming and feel their blood boiling. What good does that do?

I try to make it a practice to breathe deeply every morning.

Here’s how:

I love filling up my lungs and expunging all the air and imagining my lungs deflating like a balloon. I do this almost every morning with a 20-30 minute yoga routine.

I’m an early riser, so I like to take in the stillness of the morning silence with a meditation practice. People may get freaked out and discouraged about “not knowing how to meditate.” The truth is, there isn’t a “right way” to meditate. Simple focus on your breath, deep breath in…deep breath out.

Other times when I’m running and gunning, I just take three quick deep breaths. If you’re over-programmed like me and have a busy schedule, set a reminder on your phone to go off three times a day to remind you to breathe.

Here’s a video I made for you that will help you focus on your breathing. This is what I usually see on my morning run at Aquatic Park in San Francisco. Breathe in when the waves come toward the shore. Breathe all the way out when the waves recede. It’s only a minute long, but the effects are long lasting.


Feel better?

According to Men’s Journal, here are some stats about how deep breathing can be aaah-so-good for your health:

Relax: Breathing is an “accurate and honest barometer” of a person’s emotional state. Train your breathing to maintain your calm and lower stress levels.

Maximize Potential: The average person uses just 50 to 60 percent of his lung capacity. Breath training expands the lungs, and better oxygen intake means higher athletic performance.

Improve Health: Research suggests that developing proper breathing habits can play a role in treating conditions like asthma, acute bronchitis, ADHD and sleep apnea.

Don’t we all feel better after taking a few deep breaths? The next time you feel your panties or boxer briefs getting in a bunch, smile and relax (those butt cheeks). Namaste!

What other breathing exercises help you get through your day? If you follow our @goinspirego Instagram feed, you’ll notice that I often post pictures of beautiful cityscapes and snapshots of nature. Surprisingly, many people tell me the pictures remind them to slow down, be present and breathe. I’d love to hear/see what inspires you to breathe. Please share in the comments below.

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Today’s Insight

Patanjali was a great sage that lived approximately 2000 years ago and was the first to really systemized yoga.  He did so in the form of the yoga sutras which have transcended time and are still one of the most influential spiritual teachings of yoga.   The Yoga sutras consist of 196 chapters divided into four chapters of abundant wisdom

After years of studying Patanjali and applying the yogic principles in my own life, in this mornings class I was talking about Avidya, translated as ignorance or not seeing things as they are, and I fully appreciated for the first time in years, that yes Patanjali really does have a point, there really is a profound pattern in the sutras as I thought of the changes that have occurred in my own life!!

He says that with repeated practise (Abhyasa), non reaction and detachment (vairagya) and Viveka (discrimination), we can go beyond the illusion.

The analogy often used is between a snake and a rope, for example, if you went out for a walk one day and saw a snake in the grass, it would be frightening.  The next day, if you went for the same walk and saw something in the grass that looked like a snake, immediately you would assume it was a snake without really seeing it properly.  On on closer inspection you see that it is simply a piece of rope, but because you assumed it was a snake, you immediately went into fight or flight response causing stress that is totally unnecessary.

In the same way in our life we assume that something is the truth, but in fact it is not.

I have to say that through this constant practise, non reaction and discrimination, slowly I have really started to stay more present and not get so stressed about things that have not happened yet.

Yes, I thank yoga for this insightful journey and am honoured to share this wisdom.



Cry Until You Laugh

It was a Sunday morning about 2 months after my husband and I separated.  I had planned my tasks for the day and my big consuming drive was to go to the old house, where my husband was still living, to pack the rest of my things for storage (we had a looming deadline of our lease ending and I needed to get everything out and into storage.)  We had to keep making logistics plans about when he would leave the house so I could get in and pack.  “I’ll be there from 2:00 – 3:00” ”Oops no, life changed, I need more time, can I stay longer?”  “Oh, now I’m done, you can come back to the house.”  I work full time and have a teenage daughter, so any window of opportunity was precious and it was a big hassle to change it all around.  There was also the emotional strain of having to work these logistics with him when everything was falling apart between us, it was a very sad and emotional time.

So I woke up that Sunday morning knowing I had a deadline and a small window of opportunity.  I started the day already stressed.  Then as my daughter was drying her hair, she told me for the first time that she had to do a cooking project for Foods class, due the next day.  She had to cook a dish and do a poster, and this was not on my to-do list.  I had been holding it all together until the school project maxed me out and tipped me over the edge.

My mind raced with everything I had to get done. It all started falling in on me as I tried harder and harder to figure it all out, I’d have to call and get more time at the old house, we had to get a recipe somehow, go to the store, find somewhere to cook (we are just renting a room and don’t have all our cooking supplies), do grocery shopping for the week and then get to the old house to pack what I could in the remaining time I had left and keep my eye on the clock still tick-tick-ticking away at the deadline of when I had to have everything out. 

I was emotionally exhausted from the separation and physically exhausted from moving recently and working all week.  It was a perfect storm of too many things to handle and I froze, on the verge of tears.

My roommate, Deborah Shemesh (a yoga teacher for 30 years and a Chopra Center certified instructor) overheard the need for a recipe and brought us one of her cookbooks.  She came into our room and took one look at me and asked if I was ok.  In that moment I didn’t have the ability to lie and say “I’m ok, it’s fine, I’ll handle it.”  I was so caught in the stress of the moment, totally at my wits end and all I had room for was to be totally authentic and say, “No, I am not ok”…and I began to cry. 

Deborah came over and hugged me, not just any old hug, but a full-on, I’ve-got-you-if-you-fall, firm holding, full body kind of hug.  I felt so secure and so held as I cried and cried and cried, deep sobbing cries of exhaustion, overwhelm, tension, you name it.  She kept saying “This is good, keep it coming” and I kept on going, getting it all out.  When I finally got to the end and was trying to catch my breath with that sort of gasping wavering thing that happens at the end of a big cry, Deborah said “Ok, now let’s breathe.” Deeeeep in breath.  Then, still holding on to me, she touched the base of my spine and said “Now breathe all the way down to here,” so then again deeeeep in breath, down to the based of my spine.  No sooner did the breath get all the way down there, but something strange happened.  I started laughing!  I mean really laughing with joy and amazement.  I was laughing as hard as I had been crying!  I felt so happy and relieved!  I was so spent that the only thing left was my pure essential self and I found joy there. 

After I was done laughing and had dropped the stress I said with perfect knowing, ”Ok, the most important thing today is the school assignment, let’s focus on that and forget the packing.”  So we went to the store for supplies and then to another friend who helped us find a recipe online and let my daughter use her kitchen.  I was able to prioritize what was important and get realistic on what I could really do with my day… and I let go of the rest.  I think I was even able to take a nap that day. 

The interesting thing was when I let go, other things came in to support me….the other friend who helped us get a recipe and helped my daughter cook in her kitchen…my out-of-state parents called and changed some plans to come help me move my stuff by the deadline.  I realized I wasn’t alone, I didn’t have to do everything all by myself unless I closed myself to those opportunities.

I told Deborah a few days later that the crying and letting go was like turning a corner for me, life had become a little easier and lighter and brighter since then.  She said that was interesting because she had asked about it with Dr. David Simon of the Chopra Center on a conference call for her class and he said what had happened was that I had bumped into my own soul.  I guess all the stress cracked me open and all the crying washed me clean so next thing I knew, there was my real self.

So, people usually say “I laughed until I cried” but if you are feeling overwhelmed, sad, tense or in a hard place, try letting loose and get the cry out to make room for the laughing.  Joy is there at the bottom of the despair waiting for you to find it.


Why Are You So Hard On Yourself?

 The results of last week’s quiz showed that just about everyone has a case of Perfectionitis. Fellow Huffington Post blogger, Dr. Cara Barker did a 10 year study on this challenge. Her work entitled, World Weary Woman: Her Wound and Transformation came to the same conclusion. Here is what we found: There are not a lot of people who are living in healthy self-acceptance. The culture just doesn’t support it.

The Bra and Pantyhose Problem

If you are a working woman, you are likely to have the added pressure of managing both work and home life. If you are an entrepreneur, you are trying to do everything. If you are a woman working in a corporate environment you may have to work harder than the men to prove yourself. Sorry guys this is an ailment that is more prevalent in women. Basically, if you own a bra and have ever worn pantyhose, my money is on the table that you have a touch of the old Perfectionitis bug.

Our society, founded on the Protestant work ethic, seems to think the Impossible Workload is just peachy keen and even necessary for success. People get more strokes for achievement than for being happy, so they willingly take on what is in fact a toxic work schedule. Magazines are full of stories of uber women who cook as well as Martha Stewart, are as slim as Kate Moss, run an empire like Oprah, and claim to have a dreamy marriage, all on three hours of sleep a night.

Pop quiz: Is it better to be successful or happy?

News journals sing the praises of executives who hardly rest like they’re a new, improved breed of capitalist warrior, above and beyond the mere mortal who needs a daily eight hours of shut-eye and eight glasses of water. "Extreme Jobs (and the People Who Love Them). 80-Hour Weeks? Endless Travel? High Stress? Bring It On!" was the cover caption on an edition of Fast Company magazine. Next to the article was a cartoon of a woman holding a cell phone: "I Have No Life . . . and I Love It!" Boy, she sure needs an anti Perfectionitis prescription!

Lydia’s Story

More and more companies are demanding insane work loads as a norm. A member of an audience of women executives drove the point home dramatically. Lydia is a slim, vibrant brunette with bright eyes. A partner in a large law firm, she was about to retire. "In the late 70s and early 80s the hours I put in made me look like one of the hardest-working people in the firm. If I worked those same hours as a young lawyer who had just joined the firm today, I would be fired as a slacker." Her voice lowered as she continued. "My daughter is a young attorney who is trying to become a partner at a law office in New York City. She works such long hours that the stores are closed by the time she goes home. Sometimes she just doesn’t have the time to go buy toilet paper, so she steals some to take home from the firm’s supply."

Etiology: How the Heck Does It Happen?

Two things come together to bring on a bout of Perfectionitis: a culture that values high performance above everything else, and a person with low self-esteem who has assimilated those values and is motivated to try to live up to them. When somewhere inside you believe you are unworthy, inadequate, or incompetent, it’s easy to start living from the outside in. You do things to get approval from others–the culture, your boss, family, teacher, colleagues, or children–instead of doing what is a healthy choice for you.

As a kid it is easy to equate being good with being loved. Your good manners get applauded. The bad ones are punished. As time goes on, your value as a person may seem to be based on how you perform. In some families there is even the message that if you don’t excel at school, sports, or socially, you are a big failure. Behavior, then, appears to be a magic wand. It has the power to get you more love. How intoxicating! It casts its spell time and time again.

If you were like me growing up, you thought, "Boy, I want to be loved all of the time, but I can’t be good all of the time. I can only be good some of the time. If I can’t be good all the time, I must be bad inside. That means I have to work extra hard to do things really, really, really well."

Like so many other women, you become a champion self-nitpicker. You chide yourself about your weight, your career, your woefully single status. *

Bottom Line:

Self-criticism is a convoluted defense mechanism: "If I am hard on myself, then other people won’t have to be."

Pop Quiz Answer: Happy= Successful

* Excerpted from Funky to Fabulous: Surefire Success Stories for The Savvy, Sassy

and Swamped
 (Oak Grove Press) with permission.

You can receive notice of my blogs by checking Become a Fan at the top. Ask Eli a question atinfo@elidavidson.com or go to www.elidavidson.com today.

Eli Davidson is a nationally recognized motivational speaker and executive coach. Her book, Funky to Fabulous: Surefire Success Stories for the Savvy, Sassy and Swamped, (Oak Grove Publishing) has won three national book awards. Eli is a reinvention catalyst, who can transform your professional and personal life from Funky to Fabulous with her 10 trademarked Turnaround Techniques that create rapid and remarkable results. Check out her blog athttp://funkytofabulous.blogspot.com/


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