Exhale Stress, Inhale Calm

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Ready to blow a fuse and it’s only 2 pm on a Tuesday? Mridula Vinod suggests simple exercises to help you keep your hair on

You wake up in the morning and even before you catch a glimmer of daylight, your mind begins running over today’s unending to-do list. Everyone, including children, reels under stress today, but women are particularly vulnerable because we’re expected to overperform at home, at work, and even at the gym. Our mind goes into overdrive and it can be hard to get a handle on the anxiety. But it’s not impossible. The first thing to accept is that stress is a necessary state. But prolonged exposure to it can wear you down and increase your risk of heart disease, depression and obesity. The good news is that the bulk of your stress is subjective and you can control it. Ruchi Mohunta, positive psychologist and mind map trainer, says, “Just as the physical body needs exercise, so does your emotional self. A quick jog or walk in the morning leaves you with a sense of productivity through the day. If work is stressing you out, try a few deep breathing exercises to calm the mind or do some upper and lower body stretches, as often emotions are ‘stuck’ in different parts of the body. Consciously release negative emotions and practise forgiveness and gratitude—this is called visiting your emotional fitness gym.” Here are some simple DIY exercises to help you sail through your day and counter stress with ease.

Stress trigger: An angry email first thing in the morning


Inhale through the nose to the count of four, then exhale for the same count. This adds a natural resistance to your breathing. Work up to six-eight counts per breath. More oxygen means less tension.

Stress trigger: A traffic jam with no end in sight


Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Take a deep breath in through the nose, ensuring the diaphragm (not the chest) inflates with sufficient air. Take six to ten deep, slow breaths per minute for ten minutes daily to lower the heart rate and blood pressure levels.

Stress trigger: A meeting that goes on too long


Sit comfortably and focus your attention on your right foot. Tense its muscles and squeeze tightly. Hold for a count of ten and relax the foot. Breathe deeply and slowly for a while and then, repeat the same with your left
foot. Move up to the knees, thighs, rear, chest, arms, hands, neck, jaw and eyes— maintaining deep, slow breaths all the time.

Stress trigger: Mondays, money, marriage… everything!


Meditation can clear your mind and regular practice will ease you of many health concerns, such as high blood pressure, depression and anxiety. It is usually done sitting with eyes closed. Advanced forms of meditation,
such as the kinds that Buddhist monks follow, involve heightening awareness even while doing daily chores as a form of mind-training.


Known as nadi shodhana, hold the right thumb over the right nostril and inhale deeply through the left nostril. At the peak of inhalation, close off the left nostril with the ring finger and exhale through the right. Continue this, inhaling next through the right nostril, closing it off with the right thumb and exhaling through the left nostril.


Kapalbhati starts with a long, slow intake of breath, followed by a quick, powerful exhale generated from the lower belly. Once you become comfortable, increase the pace to one inhale exhale (through the nose) every one to two seconds, for a total of ten breaths.


Sign up for a fun class of dance, zumba, kick-boxing or MMA (mixed martial arts) to sweat out your stress and feel pumped with energy. When at work, walk up a flight of stairs, pace down a corridor or stretch your limbs
to feel relaxed.