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The unlikely tip to massively and instantly reduce your stress

It feels like the world's end is looming with just two weeks left in the year, doesn’t it?

Fortunately, once you finally put aside your laptop and smartphone, you can run off to organize the many end-of-year celebrations. And then? A new race begins, of course! Heading into 2023 and its parade of ambitions!

Does that make you dizzy, too? So, when are you really going to slow down?

Oh, but between the Yule log and the champagne on the 31st, you might say! I guess you'll try to relax a bit by visiting the spa or hitting the slopes. And then, there will be a few lucky ones who will treat themselves to a small meditative retreat, a thermal cure, or a few ascents in the quiet of the Alps."

Stressed man at the office at the end of the day
Last stretch before the end of the world. Credit: Wix

All these activities will undoubtedly do you a world of good. They will help you disconnect and thereby help you relax. But what if you could (finally) relax without even disconnecting? I'm sharing a stress-relief tip with you, and from there, I invite you to some real reflection

Destress without disconnecting

Professor Andrew Huberman of Stanford University has conducted research to identify what can reduce stress quickly and effectively, right in the midst of action, without the need to 'disconnect'. His solution? The physiological sigh. What's that? It involves taking a deep breath, and at the peak of that breath, inhaling once more (a double inhalation to completely fill your lungs), followed by a long and slow exhalation. Really?

The physiological sigh is, in fact, a natural reflex: we sigh about every 5 minutes to increase the oxygenation of all our lung alveoli, which tend to become less oxygenated with normal breathing. However, if we take control of this reflex, we firstly enhance our oxygenation, then deeply clear out the carbon dioxide produced, and finally activate the parasympathetic nervous system (the one that reduces stress), all in 10 seconds!

Huberman explains that one to three breaths of this type are the fastest way to reduce your stress. There's no need to remove yourself from the stress-inducing situation to gain perspective. This technique can easily be integrated into any heated meeting or tense end-of-year meal.

A hint of ancient wisdom

Is this new? Not really. But the scientific validation, the religion of our time, lends new weight to what yoga has known for 2-3,000 years: prolonged exhalations calm your nervous system, and breathing is a powerful tool for altering your inner states and emotions.

Don't wait for the Christmas break, a meditative retreat, or a squash game: breathe right now and take control over your stress! To think about it is to put yourself in the position of the Observer, capable of deciding what to do with the situation rather than just enduring it.

Is it sustainable? Not really. Let's be clear, this mechanism primarily helps you get your head above water but won't solve what's causing your stress. However, it's with your head above water that you can address the underlying issue.

The real questions to ask yourself

Indeed, it will be salutary to ask oneself the "real questions" in this regained calmness and as the decision-maker of your life.

Not the ones about how I will "survive" from January onward. No, taking charge means asking:

You have all the cards in hand... Yes, really!

These are tough questions. But it's your life, right? What do you want to do with your life? A never-ending race to feed an ego, to prove to yourself that you're a good person? To measure up? To please certain people? Or to accomplish what truly matters to you?

I realized my addiction to adrenaline quite a while ago and still struggle a bit with it: it's exhilarating to see oneself juggling, solving problems, delivering, achieving goals... And at the same time, it's just exhausting. I had to breathe a lot to see clearly and a lot of reflection and development work to make room for a new approach and new things. This blog was a first step. The next part is coming in January ;-).

In a nutshell,

In the bustle of the year-end, stress is at its peak. Yet, it's good to remember that relaxation and calm are within reach.

My message? Breathe, catch your breath, and use this year-end to ask yourself the real questions. Because you can, with a little help and some work, change the game, shed your fears, dare more, change course or simply change your life at work! It's in your hands!

For this year-end, I wish you well-deserved rest, perspective, and distance to find your answers. And start today by breathing differently!

Have a great break, everyone!

See you soon!


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