When coming up with ways to reduce stress (i.e. reduce cortisol and muscle wasting), I try to think of things that “build character” or have multiple positive ramifications, and not just stress reduction.
After a bit of soul searching, one area that I felt I can improve upon that could also help with stress reduction, is with my level of patience. I figured out that the situations where I do lose patience are when I’m determined to complete one task before moving onto another and something else is demanding my attention before I can finish. Common thing I’m sure. In these cases I will sometimes lose patience, become stressed, and so on.
Unfortunately, a lot of times it is with people where I will lose patience to the point where I am acting out of character. When I start to affect my relationships with people I care about, that is when it is time to stand up and take notice.
One particular area in my life that I want to inject as much patience as possible in is my relationship with my children. Discipline is an important part of being a parent, but when I start to discipline out of anger because I become stressed and impatient, then it’s time for another approach. I want to discipline with love and perhaps logic.
I have “snapped” at my kids more times then I am comfortable with. Or, there were precious moments I missed because I didn’t have the patience to stop what I was doing to listen to them. Learning to be more patient, besides reducing stress and therefore the production of cortisol and therefore the counter-productive “muscle wasting” effect, more importantly will strengthen my relationship with my children no matter how you look at it. The relationship I have with my kids is the most important relationship to me by far. So what do I do to step my game up, and become more patient?
Follow along with this breathing technique, called ‘Patience’
When I am alone and all is quiet, I practice a stretch and breathe technique called none other than “Patience.”
To practice “patience,” first lie flat on your back and get comfortable. Try not to cross your limbs but I’m not sure if that is highly relevant or not. Breathe in deep through your nose into your belly or deeper, then exhale out of your mouth (or if you are a “nose-breather” like me I still find this works when exhaling from my nose which incidentally pushes air out of my mouth as well).
Now, on the first inhale, engage the lower back muscle and push it up (your arms remain flat for support, and your bum is in the air) until you feel a comfortable stretch. On subsequent ‘inhales’ your back doesn’t need to move, just breathe into that spot.
On each exhale “patiently” bring your back towards the “flat” position “little by little.” Depends how you do it, it may take 5 breaths, or it could take up to 100 to reach the fully flat position. I have no real routine for doing this but I have found that one long session when the mood strikes is very effective. I guarantee that the first session will have a positive effect. Worse case scenario is that you will learn that it often “takes patience” to see any dramatic effects for almost anything in life 😉
Now, you can do the up and down down down part as much as you like. You can change the number of breaths between each “fully down” movement from 1 to 100 or more. You can also try by engaging your stomach muscles at the same time as your back muscles. Just do what works for you and what feels right. Most importantly, know that patience will follow. To help convince yourself of that you might silently say “I am patient” between or during every breath.
I’ll tell you… when I do this particular exercise for a couple hours I find that it has a relaxed and patient effect that lasts for up to 2 weeks even under circumstances where I might normally lose patience.
This routine is great for those that slouch and/or sit for most of the day and it also complements a lower back workout. This exercise can massage you, stretch your muscles, loosen muscles, strengthen the core, strengthen the organs, and provide inner strength with one form of that appearing as patience.