When you’re on the treadmill of workplace stress, it’s hard to exit the cycle of escalation. With deadlines to meet and bad bosses to appease, nothing you do seems good enough. It would be better if you didn’t work in that toxic job, but there’s always the spectre of economic uncertainty haunting you, as well as the prospect of a long wait between jobs.
When you’re in a stuck place, your best resource is to harness your creativity to come up with a genius exit plan – but for that you need a calm, clear mind. Enter the simple and easy three-second breathing technique to go from stressed to calm in 3 seconds flat.
When you get anxious, the central physiological response is one of over-breathing; which in turn increases oxygen levels in the brain. This over-breathing causes unpleasant physical sensations such as rapid heart rate and sweating.
In order to balance the oxygen levels in your brain and stop the anxiety from escalating, it’s essential to slow down your breathing. This can be done successfully by following these four simple steps:
1. Use the second hand of your watch to count to three seconds. Notice how long three seconds actually lasts. If you don’t have a second hand on your watch, simply count: “one thousand, two thousand, three thousand”.
2. While looking at your watch breathe in for a count of three seconds.
3. Then breathe out for a count of three seconds.
4. Repeat this slow breathing for 2 minutes (excuse yourself to visit the bathroom to practice this exercise if necessary).
By now your breathing will have slowed down and the oxygen levels in your brain will have been balanced.
Some important notes about this breathing technique: Like any new skill you learn, practice makes perfect. Although this technique seems simple, you must practice it at times when you are not feeling anxious. In this way, it will be easier for you to do when you really need it to lower your anxiety. Try practicing this technique two to three times a day over the next week.
Some breathing techniques involve complicated routines of breathing in the abdomen, stomach or lungs with varying times for each breath. Complications aren’t required in this breathing exercise – just do whatever feels comfortable and right for you.
This breathing technique seems so simple, you could believe it won’t work, which isn’t the case. It’s taught at one of the most prestigious anxiety clinics in Australia (Sydney’s St. Vincent’s hospital) because of its proven track record in lowering anxiety.