How to Overcome Negativity
By Mikkie Mills
Our society is burdened by negativity. We find ourselves combatting stress and anger to little to no avail. It isn't enough to simply hope for these feelings to go away. Doing so only serves to further burden us. Instead, we must focus our attention on solutions, so that our minds can realign rather than stay stuck on negativity. One of the best ways to do that is with breathing.
The Cost of Stress
Stress is a natural human feeling, but for too many people, it has become a default state of mind that they feel is inescapable. One in five Americans has felt "extreme stress," characterized by factors like heart palpitations and depression. Your stress could be taking a significant toll on your well-being. Three out of four medical appointments are for issues relating to stress. Stress also exacerbates risk for heart attack, heart disease, and stroke. It truly is a matter of life and death.
Why Breathing Helps
The solution for stress and the negative feelings that come with it is so simple, it seems almost unbelievable. Breathing, a function even more natural than feeling stress, is what keeps us alive and can do wonders for staving off stress. Our minds need oxygen in order to function properly. By breathing deeply and thoughtfully, we can send oxygen to our brains and reduce our stress levels. It isn't an instantaneous relief and must be done with purpose, but when done correctly, every little breath help.
How to Breathe
There are many ways to breathe in order to reduce negativity. One way is belly breathing, where you place a hand on your stomach. As you breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, you feel the rise and fall of your stomach and hand. Another method is 4-7=8 breathing. Here, you breathe in for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of seven and breathe out for a count of eight. To be most effective, breathing exercises should be done on a regular basis and repeated several times in a session, or until the user feels properly relaxed.
Mindfulness meditation is a practice renowned for its effectiveness at reducing negativity and creating inner peace within the practitioner. To be mindful, one needs to have something they can keep their attention on. Many beginning meditators are encouraged to focus on their breath. The natural rhythm of inhaling and exhaling creates a steady cycle that can calm you down. While your mind is bound to wander, the practice of mindfulness will give you much greater control over your thoughts. Even if you aren't sitting down for a full meditation session, you should still be mindful of your breaths as they flow in and out of you.
You might not have known that there's a type of yoga centered around the breath. Pranayama is a method focused around control of the breath. There are many kinds, so the best thing to do is to find a type that appeals the most to you. Dress comfortably in loose-fitting clothes like yoga shorts and ease yourself into the process.
The best part of breathing exercises to overcome negativity is that they require no additional effort or expenses from you. Breathing comes at no cost and can be done anytime. Even if you don't feel especially stressed, you can still benefit from these exercises. Simply carve out a few minutes every day for a breathing exercise, meditation, yoga or all three. You might not feel any different at first, but the more you practice, the better you feel. Life is full of ups and downs, but you don't have to suffer if you don't want to. All it takes is a few moments to center yourself, and a true drive and dedication to make yourself feel as good as you possibly can.