Buzzzz. What really? I am tense again?? Breath. Focus. Ah, back in the groove.
One of the things I work with my clients on is awareness, especially awareness around stress. The problem with stress is we often don’t notice it until it causes issues. By becoming aware of our stress early on, before it becomes too much, we can diminish stress and its negative effects.
In session, I play Monday morning quarterback with the client about their past week’s stress. When was she stressed? What triggered it? What could she have done to reduce the stress? After enough of these check-ins, the client begins to see her patterns and she gets closer and closer to catching herself in the act so she can choose differently. And now there is a tool that may be able to help.
For a few months I tried out the new Spire and had a chance to talk with Spire’s co-founder Ph.D. Neema Moraveji. I love the premise of this tool as it helps people to catch themselves in the act. Worn close to the torso, the Spire monitors breathing. It registers as Focused when breathing is constant and steady, Calm when breathing is slower than normal, and Tense when breathing is faster than normal. Breathing is also tracked by time of day and location. At the end of the day, Spire can play Monday morning quarterback helping the user to see when and where they were triggered by stress, e.g., Tense. A nice feature is that it also vibrates in the moment when one is Tense or Calm alerting the user immediately so they can either make changes to their breathing or celebrate their chill status.
When I asked Neema how he came up with the idea of this tool, he mentioned something his mentor had said, “to change behavior, look at the simplest behavior that matters.” So many stress-reduction programs, diets, and other behavior shifters are complex with rules, procedures, regulations, and systems. But if it is hard to remember, follow, or execute it won’t be followed and no changes can be made. Instead, when you want to change your behavior, just look at the simplest behavior you can change to make a difference in your experience. In this case, Spire looks at breathing.
Be aware of your breathing. When it is fast and shallow, stop. Consciously slow down your breathing. Then watch how the tension in your body also reduces. Our breathing is something we can easily notice with our own awareness. And, powerfully, when we consciously shift our breathing, we can affect our experience with stress. A simple tool, breathing. Not only can it help alert us to stress, but it is also the means to reduce our stress. Easy. A simple behavior with a very big impact.
What is something you would like to change in your life? Your stress level? Your weight or energy level? Instead of starting a complex program to help you change, find that one simple behavior that can begin to have a positive impact. What can you easily notice and shift that will help you begin making a change? Think of it as a baby-step. Instead of committing to a long-term complicated program, choose one little thing to try. Then try it. Do it. Notice the impact.
What is your one simple behavior to shift?
**Full disclosure: I was given a free Spire to try before writing this post.