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Take a breath…. for Stress/Anxiety Relief

Learn to use breathing as a way to bring a sense of calm

We are very busy in our work and our personal lives.  Life can be hectic, right?  Do you ever find yourself saying “so much to do, so little time to do it?”  It is vital to our wellbeing to take time to breathe, to relax, to focus on ourselves and shift away from the crazy schedules we create for ourselves.  Although a vacation to somewhere that’s not here sounds wonderful, planning a trip can actually create stress rather than offer solace.

When you are stressed or anxious, your breathing tends to be shallow and possibly irregular.  Deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in the body and it provides quick results.  When you breathe deeply, it sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax. The brain then relays this message to your body.  Breathing deeply allows for more carbon dioxide to enter your bloodstream which quiets down the brain and helps synchronize your breathing with your heartbeat.  Take a few moments to try these breathing techniques and feel the calming sense come over your mind and body.

Explore other self-care resources offered through the Take 3 For Me videos offered on NGoodHealth.com.  These videos are about three minutes in length with nine topic options, each worth 3 N Good Health program activity points.  After viewing each video click on the link in the video description and follow the prompts to sign in to your account.  You will then get a confirmation that you earned three points. 

9 Breathing Exercises for Stress Relief

SIMPLE BREATHING TECHNIQUES TO RELIEVE STRESS

1. Alternate nostril breathing

Alternate nostril breathing, also known as nadi shodhana, is a simple breathing technique that’s often used to calm anxiety before yoga or a meditation session.

To practice alternate nostril breathing, assume a seated position with good posture that opens up your chest. Next, take the index and middle fingers of your right hand and rest them next to each other between your eyebrows (you can do this with your left hand if you feel more comfortable).

Now you’re ready to practice alternate nostril breathing:

  • Use your thumb to close the right-hand nostril and inhale slowly through only your left nostril
  • Pinch your nose closed by bringing your ring finger to your left nostril. Temporarily hold your breath
  • Open up your right nostril by removing your thumb and exhale
  • Hold for a moment before inhaling again through the right nostril
  • Pinch your nose closed again and hold your breath for a moment
  • Now open up the left nostril and exhale. Again, wait a moment before you inhale

That is one cycle of alternate nostril breathing, which can take anywhere up to a minute. Repeat the process for about 10 minutes or until you feel suitably calmed.

2. Lion’s breath

Like alternate nostril breathing, lion’s breath is a yogic breathing (or pranayama) exercise that’s predominantly done during a yoga session. However, its ability to alleviate stress makes it useful for anyone looking for a breathing exercise to calm themselves.

This one is done by sitting either in a chair or on the floor, with your hands on your knees or flat on the floor.

  • Spread your fingers wide and inhale through your nose
  • Open your mouth and stick out your tongue. Stretch it down to your chin
  • Do a big exhale, pushing the air across your tongue and making a ‘ha’ sound from the depths of your abdomen
  • Take a short break by breathing normally before starting again

Repeat the cycle several times to see the benefits. Yogic breathing practices like lion’s breath are proven to work effectively as a stress reducer. 

3. 4-4-4 breathing

4-4-4 breathing, commonly known as box breathing, is one of the easier breathing techniques you can practice to help you calm anxiety. It’s perfect as a quick fix for reducing stress, by distracting your mind and body. In fact, if you’ve taken a minute to breathe deeply then you’ve likely come close to box breathing.

  • Take a breath then exhale on the count of 4
  • Hold your breath for 4 seconds
  • Inhale to the count of 4
  • Hold your breath for 4 seconds

A few rounds of box breathing should help to keep a raised heart rate down and distract you from the anxiety-inducing situation around you. Sitting down with an extended spine and open chest is the best way to practice this technique, but it can be done stood up too.

4. 4-7-8 breathing

Also known as relaxing breath, 4-7-8 breathing follows the same principles as 4-4-4 breathing. Get yourself in a seated position, either in a chair or cross-legged on the floor or your bed.

  • Inhale to the count of 4
  • Hold your breath for 7 seconds
  • Exhale to the count of 8

Relaxing breath is the perfect pre-bedtime breathing technique, reducing feelings of tension and anxiety to help you get a better night’s sleep.

5. Pursed-lip breathing

For many breathing techniques, pursed lips can help to make your breathing more effective and purposeful. Pursed lips also have a dedicated technique of their own. You can do this when sat down or when you’re active.

  • Take a breath in slowly through your nose for 2 seconds. Keep your mouth closed
  • Purse your lips, as if you were about to whistle or sip through a straw
  • Exhale through your mouth while counting to 4

This technique is especially good at slowing the pace of your breath and limiting the distress caused by shortness of breath. Once you’ve mastered this technique, your breathing will be more efficient, helping your body do less work when breathing.

6. Diaphragmatic breathing

Diaphragmatic breathing, or belly breathing, is a breathing technique with plenty of research supporting its benefits.

To practice it, take a seated position or lie down.

  • Place one hand on your chest and one just below your ribcage on your abdomen
  • Slowly breathe in through your nose, feeling the air move down to your abdomen
  • As you do, your belly will expand and push outwards but your chest should remain relatively still
  • Purse your lips and exhale slowly for a few seconds
  • Throughout, take note of how your stomach expands and contracts, but your chest makes only slight movements

For maximum effect, repeat this cycle a few times.

7. Resonance breathing

Resonance breathing, or coherent breathing, is another great way to reduce anxiety, respond positively to stress and bring about a more relaxed self. To start resonance breathing, lie down flat and close your eyes.

  • Breathe in slowly through your nose to the count of 6. Be careful not to fully inflate your lungs
  • Gently exhale for 6 seconds
  • Throughout the process (around 10 minutes), focus on your body and how it feels as the air passes in and out

Evidence shows that resonance breathing can have positive effects on a wide range of anxiety, stress and mood related modifiers.

8. Long exhaling

Longer exhalations can help you to combat your fight or flight stress response and improve your heart rate variability – which, over time, can help us to deal better with stress. As a breathing technique, it means exhaling out for longer than you inhale.

  • Inhale for a short period, around 2 to 3 seconds
  • Pause at the top of the breath for a second
  • Exhale gently for double the time of your inhale, so around 4 to 6 seconds
  • Continue for at least 5 minutes and monitor your mood and feelings of anxiety for any improvements

When we’re stressed, too many big inhalations can lead us to engage our fight or flight instincts and hyperventilate. This technique, which can be done stood up, lying down or sitting, can help to keep those overwhelming feelings at bay.

9. Teddy bear breathing

Teddy bear breathing is very similar to diaphragmatic breathing, but adds a child’s toy into the exercise in order to engage younger people.

  • Place one hand on your chest. Place a teddy bear or toy on your belly and hold it with your other hand
  • Slowly breathe in through your nose, feeling the air move down to your tummy
  • As you do, your belly will expand and push the bear outwards. Your chest should stay almost where it is
  • Purse your lips and exhale slowly for a few seconds
  • Throughout, take note of how the bear moves up and down with your belly, but your chest makes only slight movements

You could try this one with your children, helping them to become more aware of their breathing and less worried about the world around them.

Benefits of breathing exercises 

Many of the breathing exercises above have benefits that have been extensively researched. The science behind why they work revolves around the vagus nerve, which is a part of your nervous system, that’s activated when you breathe deeply. The vagus nerve oversees your mood, digestion and heart rate. Tailored breathing exercises like these stimulate your vagus nerve, helping us respond better to stress and anxiety.

When you practice a breathing exercise, you’ll benefit from:

  • A more relaxed body
  • A lowered heart rate
  • Distraction from anxiety
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Stress reduction
  • Slower breathing for better energy conservation

Sources: Clare Gridley, Integrative Psychotherapist at Priory Hospital Woking, Psychology Today, Brigham Young University

Enjoy two free weeks at the Y!

Give the Y or Y @ Work fitness facility a try on us

Norton Healthcare has partnered with the YMCA of Greater Louisville and the Scott County Family YMCA to bring employees and immediate family members two weeks freeat the Y! Visit any of the 10 YMCA Louisville area locations, the Norton Y @ Work or the Scott County YMCA between March 1 and March 14 and get started on your wellness journey!

How to enjoy free weeks at the Y

  • Bring your Norton Healthcare employee badge to any of the locations and check in at the front desk between March 1 and March 14.
  • The Y @ Work is available 24/7, but you will need to schedule a time during staffed hours (M, W, F 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or T, Th 9am to 6pm) to gain access to the facility. 
  • N Good Health participants can earn 2 N Good Health program activity points each day they check in, up to 200 points per year, by scanning a QR code near the entrance of the facility.  Once scanned, you will be prompted to log in to your N Good Health account to earn two points immediately. 

Want to learn more about YMCA offerings?

  • The Y@Work fitness center is located in the Norton Healthcare Pavilion, open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and equipped with top notch equipment, locker rooms, showers and a sauna. Employees pay $10 per pay period and $5 additional to add on a spouse/adult household member.  If you are a community-wide YMCA member, your access to the Y @ Work is included in your membership.
  • The YMCA also offers youth sports, child development programs in addition to the full array of fitness classes and equipment with some locations providing access to swimming pools.
  • Motivate and refer a friend to join the Louisville area YMCAs or The Y @ Work and you could receive one month free with the Y’s “Refer a Friend” promotion. 
  • For details on memberships or more information on the Louisville area YMCAs and the Y @ Work, please call (502) 629-BFIT (2348) or email Margaret Sexton, director at The Y @ Work at Margaret.Sexton@nortonhealthcare.org.  For information on the Scott County Family YMCA please call (812) 752-9622.

Brighten Your Mood

From stubbed toes to personal woes, sometimes it seems like the world is out to ruin your sunny disposition. Join this four-week challenge for tips, tricks and strategies to focus on the positive and remain resilient in the
face of obstacles big and small.

How do I sign up?
Log in to NGoodHealth.com and select the “Enroll” button in the challenges sections. You can complete this challenge as an individual, or you can create a team and invite others to join.

How do I participate?
Complete daily tasks, then visit NGoodHealth.com or the Navigate Wellbeing mobile app and check “I Did This” on your challenge to-do list. You can find tips and tricks for completing your to-dos in the challenge guide.

How can I win prizes?

  • Weekly prize drawings: Each week, check “I Did This” at least five times to be entered in a prize drawing. Five entrants will be randomly selected to win $25 to spend in the N Good Health rewards mall.
  • Grand prize: Continue to check “I Did This” at least five times each week of the challenge to be entered in the final prize drawing. Five entrants will be randomly selected to win $50 to spend in the N Good Health
    rewards mall.

Can I receive 2024 N Good Health program activity points?
Yes! When you check “I Did This” on the challenge to-do list at least five times each week during the challenge, you will be awarded 28 points toward your 2024 N Good Health program activities.

Questions?
Call (502) 629-2162 or submit a service request by selecting N Good Health under Departments on Nsite
and clicking on Contact Us

How is your life balance? 

 ​N Good Health has a partnership with the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) through Wayne Corp. to support your mental well-being as part of Staying Balanced with EAP.  Completing a life-balance assessment gives you a visual representation of how balanced your life is. Set goals with a specialist from Wayne Corp. to help you create more balance and success in your life. 

This 20-minute, one-on-one session is sure to get you back on track. Wayne Corp. is offering an on-site Life Balance Assessment at a Norton Healthcare facility near you. Check the schedule below and make your appointment now! On-site appointments will be scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis. To make an appointment, contact EAP by calling Wayne Corp. at (502) 451-8262 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern time. 

DateTimeLocation
March 18, 2024 noon – 2 p.m.Conference Centers A and B
Norton Brownsboro Hospital
March 19, 202411 a.m. – 1 p.m.Scheens Conference Room 4
Norton Children’s Hospital
March 26, 2024noon – 2 p.m.Community Room
Norton Audubon Hospital
April 10, 202411 a.m. – 1 p.m.Private Dining Room
Norton Women’s and Children’s Hospital
April 18, 202411 a.m. – 1 p.m.Classroom 1
Norton Clark Hospital
April 18, 202411 a.m. – 1 p.m.Fenley
Suite 250, Large Conference room
April 23, 202411 a.m. – 1 p.m.8th floor conference room: 806A
Novak

Appointments are completely confidential and there is no cost to you. Points are awarded when you voluntarily submit a tracker form to N Good Health by emailing it to ngoodhealth@nortonhealthcare.org or faxing to (502) 666-7667.

Wayne Corp also offers clinical counseling sessions at the Wayne Corp. office or virtually. There you can receive support in areas such as:

  • Emotional difficulties
  • Marital conflicts
  • Stress
  • Alcohol or drug problems
  • Relationship issues
  • Parent/child/family conflicts

The Employee Assistance Program and N Good Health abide by all HIPAA (privacy) standards and do not share any health information. No personal or appointment information will be shared between the EAP and N Good Health. To receive N Good Health points for using the EAP, submit a tracker form to N Good Health.​

Kicking off a week of walking with: National Walking Day is April 3rd

Join N Good Health and commit to walking at least 30 minutes a day as part of National Walking Day. Whether you break your 30-minute commitment into several shorter walks, or complete it all at once, walking 30 minutes a day can improve your health.

When you make the National Walking Day pledge, you will join millions of people across the United States who are putting their health first and taking steps towards a healthier life.

To kick off the week of walking with the N Good Health team on Wednesday, April 3rd at the Get Healthy Walking Club at the Louisville Zoo at 8am. If you are not already a member, please complete the application. Invite others to join, the Get Healthy Walking Club is open to the community and allows you to walk in the zoo from 8am-9:30am, March 1st– October 31st.

N Good Health participants can get 10 program activity points a month for walking during the Get Healthy Walking Club hours. Don’t forget to bring your smart phone to scan the Get Healthy Walking Club QR code, upon entering the zoo.

Join your Wellness Champions and co-workers along with N Good Health team members for a group walk to celebrate our week of movement! Walks will be held at 11 am and 1 pm. Bring your smart phone to earn 10 Program Activity points by scanning the QR code. You will need to know your N Good Health login to receive the points. Everyone who joins a walk will get a sticker and get entered to win a Fitbit. One Fitbit will be given out at each location at the end of the 1pm walk.

  • Thursday, April 4th
    • Norton Clark Hospital – Meeting in the lobby
  • Friday, April 5th
    • Norton Kings Daughters Hospital
    • 11am – Main Hospital meet in lobby
    • 1pm – Downtown campus meet MOB lobby
  • Monday, April 8th
    • Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital – Meeting location: Bistro
    • Norton Brownsboro Hospital – Meeting location: outside cafeteria
  • Tuesday, April 9th
    • Norton Audubon Hospital – Meeting location: outside gift shop
    • Norton Hospital and Norton Children’s Hospital – Meeting location: outside Norton Cafeteria

On Wednesday, April 10th we will conclude the week of walking at the Louisville Zoo with the Get Healthy Walking club at 8am.

Not located at a main campus or off the day we are there walking? Look for the National Walking Day banner on the Nsite and take the online pledge to commit to walking for 30 minutes during the week of walking. One employee that pledges on the Nsite will win a Fitbit.


Discovering Complete Wellness

Enroll in the six-week virtual N Good Health program to enjoy holistic well-being support

Being healthy is not just eating healthy or exercising. N Good Health now offers a virtual program designed to take you on a journey to discovering not only how important it is to take care of your complete self but methods to accomplish this!

Discovering Complete Wellness is a six-week, holistic well-being program that encourages participants to take a proactive approach to wellness. Guided by the 8 pillars of wellness, guest speakers will lend their expertise to participants, who will learn how to define and measure wellness in each dimension and how to take action to build wellness-affirming habits and coping strategies. Participants will be introduced to Norton Healthcare resources that are available to support them as they discover complete wellness.

Discovering Complete Wellness

  • Norton Healthcare resources to support well-being
  • A six-week program offered virtually through Zoom
  • Option to enroll for sessions on either Tuesdays (9:00 to 10:00am) or Thursdays (noon to 1:00pm)
  • 150 N Good Health program activity points for program completion
  • Open to all employees plus all spouses insured on a Norton Healthcare medical insurance plan

Registration

Discovering Complete Wellness courses will begin on Feb 20 (Tuesdays) and Feb 22 (Thursdays).  Whichever option you select will become your regularly scheduled day and time for the course. Courses will continue weekly at the allotted time through Mar 29.

Click here to register for Tuesdays (9:00 to 10:00 am)

Click here to register for Thursdays (noon to 1:00pm)

Testimonials

  • It helped to have a reminder that health and wellness isn’t just food and exercise. There are lots of other areas that affect wellness as well  -AngelaB
  • “I am very glad I took this course and will recommend it to other employees.” –SarahP
  • “I thought it was a great program and worth my time.” –TaraM
  • “I was very surprised by the info and insight into this courses- I felt like I thought I had a good grasp of this before, but I learned even more through these classes.” -EricaW
  • “I can’t tell you how glad I am that I enrolled and followed through!”  JudyE

Questions

Contact NGoodHealth@nortonhealthcare.org with any questions on the program.

2024 N Good Health Prize Drawings

More Chances to win than ever before!

Schedule your N Good Health physical early for a chance to win free medical insurance and other amazing prizes. New this year, N Good Health will hold prize drawings EVERY MONTH from April 15 through Sept. 15. That’s six chances to take home exciting rewards!

Grand prizes offered each month:

  • Free medical insurance for 2025 (one winner each month)
  • $500 to spend in the N Good Health rewards mall (two winners each month)
  • $250 to spend in the N Good Health rewards mall (two winners each month)

Monthly bonus prizes:

  • April 15: 8 hours of FlexTime and local attraction tickets (separate winners)
  • May 15: 8 hours of FlexTime and a hot air balloon ride (separate winners)
  • June 15: Under-desk elliptical machine
  • July 15: Free entry in Bike to Beat Cancer 5-mile ride
  • Aug. 15: Wellness basket
  • Sept. 15: Tickets for the Festival of Trees & Lights

Eligibility
The earlier you complete your N Good Health physical, the more chances you have to win.

  • All Norton Healthcare employees (regardless of insurance coverage) are eligible to participate and win prizes.
  • Any spouse covered on a Norton Healthcare medical insurance plan can win prizes too!

Schedule your N Good Health physical today

Primary care provider – Make an N Good Health physical appointment with your primary care provider by signing in to your Norton MyChart account at NortonHealthcare.com/MyChart or scanning the QR code.

Norton Prompt Care – Make an N Good Health physical appointment at a Norton Prompt Care location by visiting NortonHealthcare.org/PromptCare or scanning the QR code.

Earn 2 points per visit at fitness center partners             

New check in process to earn N Good Health points           

In 2024, there is a new process to earn points for the N Good Health program for partner fitness center check ins (see list below).  Once you enter the fitness facility look for a Norton Healthcare sign with a large QR code on your way to or near the check-in counter.  Use your phone to scan the Norton QR code and follow the prompts to connect to your N Good Health account.   Be sure to scan your membership card as usual for all fitness centers except NWCH fitness room. 

The N Good Health program partners with the fitness centers below to offer Norton Health employees and spouses an opportunity to be active in a safe and secure environment.  For membership options, click the facility name to learn more or reach out to the N Good Health department at (502) 629-2162.

Norton Sports Health Performance and Wellness Center

YMCA of Greater Louisville

Scott County Family YMCA

The Y@Work

Planet Fitness

NWCH Fitness Center