Breathing life into your business in uncertain times
keeping your mind, body and business healthy
Breathing new life into your business sounds like something you might do when you’re starting a new project, rebranding a company or updating your website. Still, it’s something you can take advantage of at any time.
Perhaps the current social and economic climate has you thinking you’re more in need of resuscitation than a breath of fresh air.
However, there are many more things under your control than you might realise. The simplest is your breath.
Keep calm and breathe deeply
No longer just a yoga or birthing technique, breathwork has been scientifically proven to offer countless advantages. And when our minds and bodies give us the signals that we are calm, centred and in control, then we have a far better chance of carrying out our lives and businesses this way.
In this article, we’ll describe how and why breathing techniques help you calm your mind and body and show you when and where you can take action to bring these benefits into your life. We’ll discuss:
- Focus, clarity and decision making;
- Cardiovascular fitness, toxin removal and boosting immunity; and
- Pausing to realign and refresh your message with calm, controlled responses.
Do note that while we might be separating each of these topics for ease of discussion, as with anything concerning our mind, body (and life, really) they are all interconnected. Action in one realm will have an effect on the others. Sometimes, quite profoundly.
If this is the first time you have decided to make a breathing technique a part of your life, you might like to keep a record of what you notice. Documenting changes can help you identify the activities and events that trigger stress responses and knowing these can shed light on the positive changes that circumvent them.
Breathing for the mind
Box breathing – how to do it and why it works
Box breathing adds a simple pause to our usual in- and out-breaths. It involves taking slow, deep, equal length breaths while visualising in turn, each of the four sides of a square.
- To begin, imagine starting a drawing of a square in the bottom left corner. Breathe in for a count of four, drawing the first side of your square up in a straight line.
- Now hold your breath for the count of four while travelling along the top line of the square.
- Breathe out for four counts, drawing the third side down on the right.
- Then hold again, empty, for a count of four while you complete the square.
- Repeat until you feel more relaxed.
Biohacker and author, Dave Asprey, explains that “pairing the breathing with visualisation will take your mind off of the stressful situation and help you focus inward.” When agitated, this simple act triggers the parasympathetic nervous system to relax the body and helps to slow your heart rate.
Of course, a lot more is happening in our bodies than we can describe here. Put simply, we need to practise returning ourselves to a sense of calm as soon as we can after a stressful event. When we train this response, we reduce the potential for further adverse or long-term effects that might otherwise burden our lives.
When to box breathe
Box breathing is a useful technique for calming a busy, worrying mind. It can be used on the spot to help you gather your thoughts or emotions and is excellent at slowing down ‘monkey mind.’ Especially important if you’re prone to catastrophising scenarios at bedtime when you know your mind and body need to rest.
Breathing for the body
We’ve all heard that cardiovascular fitness is good for our bodies. While we most often relate this concept to exercise and physical health, breathing does a whole lot more for us. The lymphatic system, whose job it is to remove toxins and send infection-fighting white blood cells around the body, has no intrinsic pump. Instead, it relies on our breath and physical movement to push it where it needs to go.
Many toxins in our systems come from our food or environment. With poor gut health, they can build up to such an extent that mental, physical and emotional functions become impaired. When healthy, we deal with small amounts of contaminants easily. In large numbers, however, these neurotoxic chemicals lead to fatigue, aches and pains, brain fog, loss of concentration, emotional instability and depressive episodes. Regular deep breathing aids both blood and lymph flow, helping the immune system and assisting the removal of toxins.
Another proven method to boost your immune response is a breathing technique pioneered by Wim Hoff. Although some would consider this controlled breath-holding approach to be more extreme than the others we have mentioned, the growing body of scientific study shows a distinct decrease in pathogens in those practising it. Wim’s method is best learnt directly from him, as it is important to understand the entire approach before starting. With a free app and online mini-class, you can easily learn the basics and begin to reset your body’s natural, healthy rhythms.
Breathing for your business
Just as literally taking a breath is good for our minds and bodies, it’s a good idea to stop from time to time and allow your business to do the same.
Many so-called authorities will be encouraging you to expand and boost your content production and pivot to jump straight in and take advantage of changing circumstances. However, pausing to realign and refresh yourself and your message with calm, controlled responses (rather than knee-jerk reactions or overreactions) can play a big part in keeping you centred on your ‘why.’
Maintaining integrity during change
When you stay true to your purpose, you will also maintain your integrity with your audience. Despite the hype, your customers are not going to go away the first time you don’t show up in their inbox or on their twitter feed. If you are providing valuable, well-produced content, your audience will not only stick by you, they will be the ones reaching out to you if your posting schedule changes. In such an unprecedented global pandemic, we really are all in this together and it won’t be unlikely that we are all taking the opportunity for a moment of pause.
Regardless of whether this quote is attributed to Viktor E Frankl, Stephen Covey or a name lost to time, it certainly holds true now.
“Between stimulus and response, there is space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
Take the time to respond, don’t just react. If you’re feeling stressed about the uncertainty right now, do some of the breathing exercises mentioned above and once you have centred yourself, make conscious decisions and comments about how you feel and how you decide to go forward.
You don’t have to contribute to the negativity or the noise. As business owners, this is always our choice.
Action within the pause
Use time at home or away from usual work activities to take a breath and check if your content and messages are clear and if there are other ways you can help your audience right now. Allow yourself and your business time to take in the changes and give both the oxygen they need to remain centred within the unknown.
And remember, some of the simplest things we can control can have exponentially positive effects for ourselves and our businesses.
If you are looking to implement a new strategy, the Blue Clay team would be honoured to be a part of your solution.
The Blue Clay Team