For November my experiment was to practice a breathing exercise every day for at least 5 minutes and focus on breathing through my nose as much as possible at all times other than exercise. I was super consistent with this and managed to do it every day and I did notice a considerable difference in my mood and my patience levels.
My goal this year has been to embrace life with curiosity and experimentation to gain greater connection and this monthly experiment was perfect in helping me work towards achieving my goal. Spending time focusing on breathing and practicing breathing techniques allowed me to manage my stress and to help me feel more relaxed. When I am feeling this way, I have increased patience and that is so much better for creating greater connections with those around me – especially the kids!
We can take breathing for granted – we do it without thinking. But how we breathe can have a huge impact on our health and well being.
When a person is under stress, their breathing pattern changes. Typically, an anxious person takes small, shallow breaths, using their shoulders rather than their diaphragm to move air in and out of their lungs. This style of breathing disrupts the balance of gases in the body.
When a person is relaxed, they breathe through their nose in a slow, even and gentle way. Deliberately copying a relaxed breathing pattern seems to calm the nervous system that controls the body’s involuntary functions.Better Health
As we are in the midst of the festive/end of school year season you may be feeling more moments of stress and anxiety than usual. I highly recommend doing some breathing exercises to help keep the stress levels down and allow you to enjoy this time. It doesn’t have to take long, below I have listed some guided breathing exercises that I found helpful and the main one I used (the first one listed) was only five minutes so you have time to do it 😊!
Create a monthly experiment
Connection to goal – Embrace life with curiosity and experimentation to gain greater connection – I love my routines and they provide an excellent base from which I can achieve a great deal. My love of routines can mean that I can take a very well-worn path. This year I want to mix it up more. Add more play, challenge myself and try new things while bringing along others as I go.
Quote to connect to – “The true method of knowledge is experiment.” – William Blake
November performance – As noted above, this month’s small daily experiment had a big impact. I found the breathing exercises were fantastic for calming me down when I was getting stressed and also great for a lead-in to going to sleep. I found these breathing meditations very helpful when I needed guidance:
- Box Breathing For Anxiety Relief (5 minutes)
- Short Breath Meditation To Release Stress & Anger
- Breathing For Deep Sleep
- Breathwork For Stress Relief
- Sama Vritti : Box Breathing
On other days I would simply practice box breathing for five minutes on my own – sitting outside, waiting in the car, after a workout or lying in bed. This is a practice I will continue most days as I find it is a very grounding activity that makes a difference in how I feel, which makes a difference in how I respond to those around me. I was definitely more patient this month. You can find other monthly challenges I have completed below:
- January – to play every day
- February – take a short video every day
- March – pray the rosary every day
- April – Yoga With Kassandra’s – Flexible Body, Flexible Mind – 30 Day Challenge
- May – create a new design in Canva every day
- June – do a 10 minute Non-Sleep Deep Rest session each day (fail)
- July – write 10 ideas in 10 minutes
- August – cook two new meals a week – I had a 80% success rate with this in terms of actually cooking two new meals a week (only one was a dinner and the other was lunch or breakfast just for me). Out of the meals I cooked, there are two that I have cooked again since and will become regulars in the rotation.
- September – 10 minute daily NSDR – this was great and while I didn’t achieve 100%, it would have been closer to 80% it made a huge difference to how I am feeling.
- October – daily rehab – I had an injury in the lead-up to the marathon so daily rehab was a priority and I stuck to this as noted above until the marathon!
My experiment for December is to spend a minimum of five minutes on the slackline. This will be great for working on core and balance for me and will also hopefully encourage the kids now on school holidays to get out and have a go too!
Practice switching from judgement to curiosity
Connection to goal – Embrace life with curiosity and experimentation to gain greater connection – Having strong opinions on issues means that when I hear a dissenting view I can move to judgement and not make an attempt to understand the opposing viewpoint – it stifles open communication.
When I hear/read/view something that triggers me, I want to be curious not judgemental about it and really listen and understand the thinking behind the differing view and have truly open communication with others. Communication is key to connection.
Quote to connect to – “Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity. The greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand.” – Roy T. Bennett
November performance – Decreasing my social media usage has made me realise how much of my rush to judgement or emotional responses have been coming from taking in too much information online. While I never engage in online debates (arguments!), there are plenty of times when I have felt heightened emotions and even outrage that I take with me offline. If I then hear someone talk about these topics in real life, I am quicker to judge them than listen to what they are saying because I have all those emotions already associated with this topic. As the article from Big Think notes we can disengage from outrage and the more I am doing that the more curious and less judgemental I am being. 8/10.
Outrage is an evolutionarily useful emotion because it punishes rulebreakers and keeps people in line. Today, we express much of our outrage online, which serves no particular purpose and only rarely addresses the moral offense or seeks to correct it. We are not slaves to our nature. We can disengage from outrage.BIg Think – Outrage! Our minds and morals did not evolve to cope with social media
Consume a diverse low information diet
Connection to goal – Embrace life with curiosity and experimentation to gain greater connection – When consuming information from many sources now, algorithms are feeding us what they think we want to see based on what we have already seen, listened to or read. It takes a concerted effort to diversify the information we are consuming.
We are becoming an increasingly polarised society on so many issues and it is causing deep division. If we only ever look at one side of the story our divisions will only grow bigger.
Quote to connect to – “We need diversity of thought in the world to face the new challenges.” – Tim Berners-Lee
November performance – I had intended to review the Instagram accounts I follow in November but that didn’t happen. I went to start it but it seemed a bit overwhelming to be honest and I felt like I would end up spending more time on Instagram as I looked at profiles and determined whether or not they would stay or go. I decided not to do it. I need to work out a better strategy for cleaning up my account. If you have tips on how to do this, I would love to hear them. November was another low consumption month for me in terms of social media which was great.
Tasks for the Year
- February – Completely overhaul my Feedly feed – completed. It took me about 90 minutes to overhaul the feed. It was interesting to see so many blogs that now no longer publish new articles. I completely deleted entire folders of feeds. Over time my interests have changed but by keeping so many feeds in my account, there was too much info coming in so I wasn’t seeing the ones I wanted to. I would have halved the number of feeds I had in my account which is great.
- May – Edit, add and cull the email newsletters I am subscribed to
- Review accounts I follow on Instagram
- July – Review podcast subscriptions – deleted podcasts I no longer listened to and added some new ones to create diversity in my feed.
- March – Review Youtube subscriptions – this month I worked on adding diversity to my Youtube subscriptions and deleting anything I am no longer interested in. I unsubscribed from over 50 channels. There is so much quality content on Youtube now that I am tempted to pay for the premium version!