In the digital age, it seems like every day we’re being pressured to download a new app, adopt a new communication platform, or wear more tech on our bodies. While many of these technological advancements can have a positive effect on our lives by helping us cultivate mindfulness, practice gratitude, or boost productivity, there’s also something to be said for silencing all the noise and focusing on the most natural tool for relaxation we have at our disposal: the breath.
We all know instinctively that telling someone to “take a deep breath” can be helpful advice during a stressful situation. When we’re stressed, anxious or overwhelmed, our breath tends to be short or shallow, but slower, longer, deeper breaths are the kind that will engage your parasympathetic nervous system to help you relax.
Not only can deep breathing help to promote feelings of calm and relaxation, but it’s also been proven to decrease stress hormone, decrease blood pressure, loosen your muscles and slow down your heartbeat, among other benefits. So, how can we get into the practice of deep breathing?
What Is the Shift Necklace?
Enter The Shift necklace — a chic and sleek piece of jewelry by Komuso Design that aims to teach you breath control, thus relieving your stress. Marketed as a breathing tool, The Shift necklace trains you get into the practice of deep breathing, with exhalations of up to 10 seconds.
Husband and wife duo Todd and Vanessa Steinberg created the necklace after witnessing the power of slower, more controlled breathing firsthand in their own lives.
“My story is pretty unique in that I’m not a doctor, a scientist, a guru, a monk, or a self-help expert — I’m just someone who was dealing with a pretty common issue, stress and anxiety, that was disrupting every area of my life,” Todd says. “It was hurting my relationships, I was having a hard time sleeping at night and focusing, I was getting health problems, and it got to the point where I knew I needed to do something. It wasn’t so severe that I was self-medicating, but I knew there was a better way.”
A Simple Breathing Trick
When Todd spoke to his friend, a psychotherapist, about his challenges, his friend recommended breathing through a straw when feeling stressed to force slower, more even inhales and exhales. To his amazement, it worked — Todd was already feeling more relaxed just through this simple trick.
“He said, ‘It might sound ridiculous, but just give it a shot,’ so I proceeded to blow through a straw for two minutes. It was taking my exhale from two seconds long to eight, nine or 10 seconds long,” Todd says. “It was a crazy, life-changing experience because I instantly felt calmer, like I was floating, and the problems I had just been thinking about had gone away. I went down the rabbit hole of learning about breathwork because it’s such an underutilized tool within our wellness toolbox.”
17th Century Monks Had the Right Idea
Later, Todd and Vanessa were perusing through a neighborhood art show when they noticed a man selling a set of beautiful flutes. The man told them how the flutes were made by the Komuso monks of 17th Century Japan to aid them in their meditations.
A lightbulb went off for the pair: what if they could combine the monks’ inspiring message with modern-day psychology to create a tool that would improve people’s lives? Thus, The Shift necklace was born to help busy people come back to their breathing throughout the day without having to rely on digital technology.
“We wanted to make something a little more tactile — a minimalist tool that’s beautiful, you wear it and your life changes because of it,” Todd says.
Relieving Stress Is Key to Health
The average person takes about 23,000 breaths and thinks about 50,000 thoughts per day. It only makes sense that we’d be unconscious for many of them but focusing on breathing relaxation exercises or using a simple tool like The Shift can serve as a beautiful reminder to pause, slow down and practice deep breathing.
“Heart disease is still the number one killer. Stress is killing us, and if we know stress is killing us and we know something so simple can relieve it, let’s breathe better,” Todd says.
Wellness Doesn’t Have to Be Overwhelming
Todd, Vanessa and the team at Komuso Design hope to help simplify the world of wellness and remind people that it doesn’t have to be overwhelming.
“One of our messages is that wellness can be intimidating, like trying to drink from a firehose, but what if we just simplified it to one thing? Just start paying attention to your breath and see what happens,” Todd says.
Looking for more health and wellness tips to help you destress? Try yoga, a practice that’s truly for everyone; unplug from social media with a digital detox; or try one of these natural mood boosters to get your spirit soaring.
Lead photo courtesy Komuso Design.