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The Latest
Published Wednesday Mar 18, 2020 by Sara Lesher

The Extrovert's Guide to Staying Connected While Working from Home

Motivation
Personal Growth
Renewal

Sometimes, we all have to make adjustments to what standard day-to-day life may feel like—many of us changing our statuses to WFH indefinitely, keeping to shelter-in-place (thanks COVID-19), staying under mandatory lockdown, and spending more time nurturing a friendship digitally versus IRL. While working to protect your physical well-being, you may also be searching for ways to maintain social wellness (despite the plant you talk to providing decent friendship.) Although we aren’t keeping regular office schedules, scheduling in-person happy hours with a best friend, or able to maintain that IRL relationship feel, we can still find many ways to stay connected to our loved ones, build a stronger friendship, and support one another throughout this time. We’ve rounded up a list of our favorite ideas to get you started!
 

Friends Playing Games

Connect with your housemates. 

Whether you live with your parents, spouse, significant other, or roommates, you may feel a little worried about getting sick of them in such tight quarters. Look at this time as an opportunity to connect with them in a way you may not usually get to. Learn more about their typical workday and what goes on in their lives when you’re usually apart. Go on your lunch breaks at the same time so you can chat before retreating to your individual rooms to work. Try holding your own group fitness class. Find a new series to binge-watch together for that "I'm not crying, you're crying," personal touch. Kick it old school and work on some puzzles or play board games. The opportunities for a new friendship are endless. And if you don’t have a human housemate to talk to, spend some quality time with your pets! We’re sure they appreciate your extra hours at home. 
 

Laptop and Noodles

Host a virtual hangout (AKA digital dinner party)

If you live alone or want to spend quality time with a person outside of your housemates and get in touch with those long-distance friends, try taking your next hangout online. You can schedule a dinner (think of it as a potluck—everyone cooks, but you only eat what you prepared). Sit at the table and turn on your webcam for that face-to-face feel, so you can all share a meal (almost) IRL. Don’t feel like chewing into the mic? Just have everyone sip on some wine and call it a happy hour! Want to make it even more entertaining? Try playing games or sharing stories, anything you’d usually do if you were together in person (thanks, technology!). 
 

Woman Journaling

Find time to write. 

Writing is both an art form and a means of expression in life. Even if you don’t think you’re a “good writer,” you should never be intimidated to put your thoughts on paper. If you don’t want your work to be seen by others, you can write to your past self, your future self, or anything in between. Although it’s a solitary act, writing is still communicating and will give you an outlet for sharing ideas, thoughts, and feelings, even if it’s just with yourself as a means to talk internally.  

If you’d rather have a small audience for your writing, try sending letters or emails to your loved ones. Friendship relies so much on that personal touch we often forget in life with so much digital influence. Right now, many people are feeling afraid and experiencing a loss of control, and looking for any semblance of a normal relationship. A comforting note from a friend or family member may be exactly what they need. Plus, getting a response from them in your inbox will be equally exciting! 

If you want to take it one step further and share your thoughts with the world, try blogging or writing a book. Maybe this is something you’ve always wanted to do but never had time to pursue. There are plenty of blogging sites online (Squarespace, WordPress, Wix, etc.) where you can create a space to share your work. And for shorter form writing, you can even leverage social media as a sharing platform.  

 

Woman FaceTiming with Coffee

Have lunch (or coffee) with coworkers.  

If you routinely have lunch or coffee with the same people at work, there’s no need to stop just because you’re remote now. Schedule virtual video calls as you would for regular meetings at work during your lunch or coffee hour and enjoy each other’s company. Not only will this help you maintain relationships with coworkers, but it will keep you in a steady routine and help you adjust to your new WFH status.  

 

Netflix on Laptop

Host a movie or book night.  

I’m sure many of you have already been using this time as an opportunity to binge all the shows and movies you just didn’t have time for before. But there’s something a little more fun about watching with friends. Trying to watch someone else’s TV over FaceTime doesn’t work out too well (trust me, I tried watching The Bachelor this way in college when I didn’t have cable). But luckily, there’s a super cool Chrome extension called Netflix Party, where you can play a show at the same time as your friends and discuss it in a little chat box in real-time!  

Hint: If you’re a little burnt out on TV, you could also consider hosting a virtual book club! 

 

Man Playing Video Games with Headset

Game on!  

If you’re a fan of multiplayer video games (or even if you’re not), now might be the time to hop on and start gaming. Whether you’re on an Xbox with a headset, GamePigeon on your iPhone, or even playing checkers over FaceTime, there are tons of options for playing games with your friends! Think back to your favorite gaming app trend (remember Words with Friends and Draw Something?!) and tell your friends to reignite the fun—because nothing kills time like a little friendly competition.  

 

As we’re all adjusting to this new reality, we must remember to stay connected to those we love and keep in mind that we’re all in this together. So, get creative! These tips are just to get you started. 

Have a tip of your own? Share the love by posting it on your Instagram story, and don’t forget to tag @mindbody!  

Sara Lesher
Written by
Sara Lesher
Marketing Content Associate
About the author
Spoiled by the San Diego sunshine, Sara’s hobbies include beaching, hiking, concert-going, and brewery-hopping. As Mindbody’s Marketing Content Associate, she naturally loves reading and writing… so if you have any book recommendations, let her know. And just between us: she’s committed to health and wellness but loves a good taco (shoutout TJ Tacos in Escondido).
woman with crystal bowl
The Latest
Published Tuesday May 19, 2020 by Shanila Sattar

Top Breathing Exercises for Anxiety and Depression and The New Normal

Meditation
Renewal
Personal Growth
Expert Advice

Inhale. 
 
 
Have you been feeling it? The big emotion floating around the last few weeks is the Big Anxiety. Coupled with the stress of what the COVID-19 pandemic has bought for millions of people, disturbed wellness routines, and worry, we have a recipe to create massive damage to ourselves. 
 
 
Exhale. 
 
 
Adjusting to the new normal, with social distancing practices in place and adapting to precautions and routines, may be the root of even more anxiousness for many as we’re navigating uncharted territories.  


Long-term anxiety and stress can harm our bodies 

During times of high stress, our bodies experience a physiological strain, where essentially everything from our heart, muscles, blood, and energy have to work harder than needed in order to keep functioning at a minimum. Our body’s natural processes, like breathing, can get compromised, lessening the healing functions of the nervous system, and overworking our adrenal system. Stress management is almost non-existent. This overtaxing of the body disrupts the natural flow of energy and resources, and puts us in something known as the “fight or flight” mode. In this mode, we are constantly deciding if there is some kind of real danger and how to survive it. We feel these signals when our heart rate and blood pressure rise, our stress responses like sweating and either constricted or super fast breathing occur, and our feel-good hormones become compromised. 
  
As we process anxiety, not only do we mentally and emotionally feel the repercussions, we also physically confuse our systems that are doing their best to naturally heal us. Staying in a state of continued anxiety with an overactive sympathetic nervous system can be incredibly damaging to your health, even if it is a small amount of stress that collects over time. Stress suppresses our immunity, digestion, deep breathing, disrupts sleep, and eating patterns, impacts mood, energy levels, and much more.  


We are holding our breath

Studies show that over 50% of adults are essentially holding their breaths. They do a shallow type of breathing known as thoracic breathing, where you breathe lightly into your chest instead of into your diaphragm. For example, notice how you’re breathing right now. You’re likely holding your breath to some extent and you’re probably not breathing much at all. If you’re asked to partake in a deep breathing exercise now, you’ll puff up your chest and shoulders, and empty out your stomach. Guilty? 
  
If you’ve ever seen a baby breathe or the breathing technique of someone in deep sleep, you’ll notice that their bellies rise and fall; the oxygen goes directly into a natural deep belly breath. Adults, however, have become acclimated to holding our breaths without meaning to. When we can slow down and practice deep breathing, we send physical and neurological signals through our entire body that asks us to rest.  


Breathing exercises can reduce stress and anxiety

The great news is that there are easy breathing exercises we can do at home that do not take a lot of time or effort. An incredible tool that anyone can use in times of high stress is remembering to inhale and exhale. Yes, breathing. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention also recommended breathwork not simply as an immunity building tool, but as a way to balance emotional and mental wellbeing. Deep breathing and other breathwork improves the body’s overall functions; improves the respiratory system, builds protective mucus in the nose, oxygenates and blood and brain, improves digestion, alkalizes the full body, and much more. Each style of breathwork sends special physiological signals—some ask us our bodies to slow down and chill, to get out of fight mode, and bring us back to equilibrium where our body’s natural healing systems can be activated; some styles of breathwork ask to pump up and energize


Top breathing exercises to reduce anxiety and stress 

It’s common to find yourself rushing through breathing practices or feel like you need to set aside special time for it. But that’s the point. We get to slow down, and we get to implement these practices even if there are distractions, business, and no perfect zen meditation corners in our homes. We can do these anytime, anywhere. 
  
If you’ve been feeling any small symptoms of anxiousness or stress, now is the perfect time to incorporate some incredibly easy and effective breathwork techniques into your day-to-day. 


Belly breathing 

This breathing technique can be done at any time of the day, for as long as you want. It’s recommended to practice this for at least 30 seconds to start and several times throughout the day. It’s a breath technique to practice before going to sleep as well. As you’re doing this breath, imagine your stomach like a big pump. As you breathe in, you’re expanding; as you breathe out, you’re emptying out. 

1. Put your hands on your belly/abdomen area. 
 
 

2. Take a big breath through the nose and PUSH your hands away from the belly as you breathe in. Expand your stomach as much as possible and try not to puff up your chest. 
 
 

3. Slowly exhale through the mouth and constrict your belly inwards. Feel free to make a sound with the mouth when you do this.  
 
 

4. Repeat for a minimum of 30 seconds. 
 
 
  
  

6-7-8 Breath 

The 6-7-8 breath can be done at any time of the day to calm anxiousness and stress, especially before doing to sleep. It’s a self-soothing technique that helps relax and calm the nervous system. You can do this practice sitting up or laying down.  
  
1. Close down your eyes. 
 
 

2. Relax your mouth. 
 
 

3. Take a deep breath in through your nose for 6 full seconds. Count in your head and maintain an even pace. 
 
 

4. Hold this breath for 7 seconds. 
 
 

5. Pucker your mouth and exhale out through the mouth with a “whoooooossh” sound for 8 seconds. 
 
 

6. Repeat this 6-7-8 breath for at least 5 rounds, or as long as you wish. 
 
 


You can adjust the 6-7-8 counts to accommodate your pace. You can try a 4-5-6 sequence, or an 8-9-10 sequence. Play around with the length of time that feels good for your body. Some people love to sit by an analog clock for the ticking sound to help keep pace; some love to incorporate music. 


The Box Breath 

This is another easy technique that can be done at any time of the day. 

1. Breathe in for 4 seconds through the nose. 
 
 

2. Hold for 4 seconds. 
 
 

3. Exhale for 4 seconds through the nose. 
 
 

4. Hold for 4 seconds. 
 
 

5. Repeat at least 5 times. 
 
 

You can play around with the timing for 6 seconds, 8 seconds, and so on to see what works best for your body.

These are the top three breathwork techniques to manage anxiety and stress. Plenty of other techniques work on sleep, inner healing, subconscious programming, altered states of consciousness, and more. Play with the three techniques above and see what feels great for you. It’s common to find a sense of calm almost immediately, some gentle tingling, and relaxation! As we’re adjusting to the new normal, let’s all contribute to creating peace both inside and out. 

If you'd like to try a guided breathwork class with me, click here to find one that works with your schedule! For other breathwork classes, browse Mindbody

Shanila Sattar
Written by
Shanila Sattar
Founder, AlwaysPlay Studios
About the author
Shanila is a sound healer, breathwork coach, women’s researcher, and speaker. She trains sound healers and breathwork facilitators through her mobile studio, AlwaysPlay Studios, and is the founder of the Integrative Wellness Leaders based in Los Angeles. She practices integrative wellness - considering a person's emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. Her background is in tech, having co-founded an award-winning web agency, and in women’s research, specifically in mindsets, implicit bias, perfectionism, women's health, and societal experiences supported through the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Health, and several universities. She has implemented several health and wellbeing programs in underserved populations throughout Los Angeles. Shanila mentors women who are wellness entrepreneurs and on their confidence journey.