Do you ever feel like you need 10 min of peace and quiet only for you? To shut the door, turn off your tech devices and take a break from your life’s ongoing demands? If you feel like this, this article is for you.

Our brains are an important piece of hardware.  They are the control centre of our bodies and determine how we perceive our environment, for example, our current situation in life and our relationship with others and ourselves.  The National Science Foundation discovered that our brains produce 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day depending on how much of a “deep thinker” you are.  Out of these thoughts 70-80% of them tend to be negative. [1] Wow, that’s a fascinating stat.  Over time, this will naturally have major repercussions on our health, careers, and relationships. So, what can you do to stimulate and nurture a positive mindset?

Our brain is on constant overload from the minute we wake up to the time we go to bed.  It’s time to pay it some respect.  The first step towards this mind shift is to carve out 10 min of your busy life to find some “downtime” to let your brain unwind.   It is a time to sit or lay in a quiet place where you can observe your thoughts from the outside in without any judgment or reaction.  It is a time to focus on deep diaphragmatic & belly breathing, which will send signals via the vagus nerve to turn on the parasympathetic nervous system.  The vagus nerve runs from the base of the skull, down the spine and to our internal organs.  It helps the body and brain communicate back and forth.  So when you start to focus on longer inhalations & exhalations, this automatically sends signals to calm the body & mind.

The parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) will start to dominate which is responsible for restoration.  The following benefits will occur during this type of relaxation;

  • Help digestion and thus absorption of nutrients
  • Dilate the blood vessels, allowing more blood to rush through your body at a given time. This enables the body to deliver greater amounts of oxygenated blood to tissues and organs, which can aid recovery & healing.
  • Reduces heart rate.
  • Allows the pupils to restrict, thus relaxing the eyes.
  • It also inhibits the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), which is responsible for kick-starting the body during stress-full situations. It acts opposite to the PNS, thus increases heart rate, breathing & blood pressure.

The PNS allows us to recover & regenerate when the SNS is constantly in over drive from life’s demands.  It is important to hack into the PNS on a daily basis with our list of top tips, so that you can refuel your body and mind. This is a critical step in shifting your mind-set, which will directly enhance your career, health, and relationship with others and how you perceive yourself.

Ultimately, by doing this, you will have more energy to give back!!!




How To Enhance Your 10 Minutes of ‘Down Time’

Find a space where you are not going to be distracted. Turn off your tech devices and choose a comfortable position.  The magic of down-time is staying present. Thoughts will naturally arise, and as they do, they will be let pass by without any reaction. This practice is called Mindfulness.

Mindfulness is a type of meditation that involves focusing your mind on the present. To be mindful is to be aware of your thoughts and actions in the present, without judging yourself, and without being distracted by stressful experiences from the past (e.g. how crappy the day before was) or stressful anticipation of the future (e.g. everything you need to get done that day

  • Focus on the breath and use it as an anchor to calm the mind. During this time you will only breathe in and out through the nose as this will enhance parasympathetic activation.  Focus on big inhalations and exhalations.  Place your hands on your belly; you want to feel the belly rise and rib cage expand as you breathe in through your nose and feel the rib cage and belly collapse out of your hands as you breathe out through the nose.  Your diaphragm is a muscle, and working on creating longer inhalations and exhalations will directly improve your ability to breathe.

Two Main Benefits of improving breathing capacity are the ability to control your breath and thus your heart rate during stressful situations and superior exercise performance; by breathing in more oxygen and exhaling greater amounts of carbon dioxide, you will be able to prolong the effects of exercise fatigue.

By Kate Faison,

Personal Trainer at the Dan Roberts Group.