COM0014 Blog # 7 – Personal Reflection

Communicating in a Digital World

This course taught me that communication styles and content has huge implications in this great big digital world we live in. Certainly digital content and digital storytelling is important but more so is what you write and how you write it. Just like when someone look at you straight in the eyes while you are telling your story, they will see the same things when they read your content. Great digital content is like a greast story. It should have meaning and information that is genuine and adapted to the readers (audiences).

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Stories rock!

Stories are the foundation of any content whether it’s web content, blogs, social media, or op-eds. The content you choose to curate should be aligned and guided by the story you want to tell to your #peeps. Pulling on their emotional strings won’t hurt, it can only help reach your full potential in telling your story in a communication style that is adapted to what your readers want. It shouldn’t be about what you need and want, it should be about what value you bring to your readers. Poviding your point of view is great but questions need to be included to keep the readers’ attention and answers provided with your content. Personalizing the story to your audience is key and providing some emotional content in order to bring serious issues alive and connect your audiences to the story. But don’t go crazy on the content, find the right balance by not overloading the audiences.

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Leaving a mark

The kinds of stories I want to tell are those which can teach others valuable lessons with an eductional component to them. I want to tell stories that influence people to be more positive and generous, and most of all to be mindfull and healthy. A story can be told for entertainment purposes and also educational purposes. If I can do both at the same time, I will be happy to have contributed to this beautiful digital world we live in.

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COM0014 Blog # 6 Do People Know Your Story

Who am I

Am I ever glad you asked me who I am and what do I do! That is so nice of you to ask. I am an Ottawa resident that has a passion of canines and have a “doggie daycare” business.

What inspired me to do what I do

My passion for dogs started when I had my first dog, and Airedale Terrier named Roxy. She was a high energy, high output pup who needed alot of exercise and socialisation. The ideal fix was to head out to an off-leash dog park. I would go to places like Bruce pit for example and it’s there that I realised that people who have dogs need to have a space to let their dogs off-leash so their pups can let out their “beans” and be calm and balanced for the rest of the day at home.

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When we were planning avaction to go somewhere that don,t accept dogs, it was always difficult to find a trusting person or company that could “babysit” our Roxy. I searched places in the area so it would be convenient in terms of travel time for pick up and drop off. I also wanted a place that was more “homy” like a kennel-free environment. In my searches, i found there was a lack of those types of options. I also found that the prices were quite high and then realised that it made sense as the quality of care and time spent caring for our dog was worth it.

My philosophy was to service the dog owners in Ottawa by providing with a peace-of-mind solution for their dog minding needs. A place that they could bring their loved ones to live the best experience ever. I love dogs so much and it makes me happy to see dogs have fun playing with their friends and getting the exercise they so badly need. I also love making people happy by taking their problems away and giving them peace of mind that their pups are in good hands, being cared and loved.

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I love what I do because, although it is alot of work, it doesn’t feel like actual work. Thanks for for your interest in me. I’m glad you took the time to listen to my story.

Have a great day!

– Louise


 

COM0014 Blog #5 – Personal Brand

Expressing who I am

If I was to differentiate myself from others on social media (my competitor), I would ensure that I use the personal branding concept very carefully. It is in my nature to be positive and cheerful and I am proud to portray my activities in that light. Lately, I have been posting some really interesting instagram photos that portray my personality and passions. Also, they way I curate my instagram stories say alot about me. My friends say that my best trait is being positive and that they look forward to seeing my next instagram story or post, especially when it involves cooking and recipes.

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My husband finds it really strange that I will stop what I’m doing to capture a moment (take a picture or video) so I can post it on instagram. I tell him that I think it’s fun and love sharing positive photos and tips with my friends. Do you ever wonder what people think about you when you post something on social media? Well, I do. And I wish I didn’t worry sometimes about what people think of my posts. So I turn it around and focus on the positive, and continue to express my trues self in my posts because i know that my friends and followers appreciate them.

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COM0014 Blog #4 – B2C Case Study

A Company Who Understands Their Customers

Urban barn is a good example of a business that performs B2C (Business to Consumer) transactions. In my opinion, their strong suit is their customer-centric approach. They make it more about their customers that about them. They clearly are deliberate with their advertising, brand identity, and website, social media and blog content. Urban Barn attracts the actual type of customers that they are targeting to begin with. Their approach is “bang on” in my opinion. A customer who notices Urban Barn is one that aligns with their tastes and portrayed lifestyle.

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Meant to Be

When a customer visits the Urban Barn store, website or social media platforms, they immediately get the impression that they fit right in. When Urban Barn was created, they had the right approach by articulating that their purpose of existence is based on their customers. Their story resonates with their customers, pulling on their heart strings and making it so easy to fall in love with their style and offerings. Here’s how they articulate this in their own words:

“Our business started with an idea. Yours.”

They seem to have a charming way of interacting with their customers with their friendly approach and listening skills.

“We started our business by asking people what they wanted. Then we created Urban Barn as a furniture and home décor destination where you get a little more than what you’d expect and can discover what makes a home just right.”.

They also offer plenty of resources on their website to help their customers and offer learnings and solutions, for example the how-to videos.

Online Presence

Urban Barn employs social media to tell their story, to advertise their new arrivals, provide fresh new decor ideas, interact with their customers, make sales, etc. They use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTubeand Pinterest and they are very present on all of these platforms. They take the time to post regularly and consistently and they are timely with seasons or holidays. They interact with their customer by curating content that meets their needs and wants, and they also make it easy to get the customer to purchase items with their call to action buttons and by directing them to their website and blog. Their tone is just right; not too pushy, not too passive, just the right balance of “pursuasiveness” needed to convince customers that they need to buy their products.

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While they certainly use social media to promote their products and entice customers to buy, they also promote their social responsibility and contribution to community and charity. They donate part of their profits to organizations which is a great way to attract business and have referral advertising through these other organization’s social feeds. Here’s an example of The Ontario SPCA and Humane Society promoting themselves as well as Urban Barn’s Blankets. I think Urban Barn’s approach is working really well. They are active on their social media platforms and are posting in a way that is not too pushy or loud. Their Instagram stories are a great way to approach their customers on a more personal basis and I think their interactions align with their communications plan. Are you like me and wonder how many communications officers work for them? It takes time to stay on top of things in the social media sphere. Everything is well thought out and executed, and in my opinion, they have the right approach for sure!

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COM0014 – Blog #3: Target Audiences

Needs and Wants

Listening to people’s needs and wants is one of the fundamental behaviours of successful human interaction to connect with people and keep them engaged. Whether you are in a face to face conversation with someone or on social media curating content or monitoring & reading (aka listening) comments, you’re meeting these individuals’ needs and wants to be listened to and to be acknowledged when they express themselves.

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Whether you agree with them or not, acknowledging what they are saying helps maintain that relationship with them, whether it’s for one and future conversations or social media posts. If you have something to say to someone, whether it’s in person or through social media/web content, would you mold the way you deliver that message in a way that meets your audiences’ needs & wants? Ideally, you would “put yourself in their shoes” and assess how your audiences want to receive your information so that you can keep them engaged. Always consider what your audiences want to get out of what you are saying as this method will encourage people to listen, engage, read, absorb and interact with your content.

Defining the Essence of Who Our Audience Is

Assessing your target audiences, their wants, feelings and hopes, is a critical step to attract and maintain the people who will be loyal to your content and also amplify your messaging. Doing extensive research and creating personas for example is an effective way of drawing our your audiences into segments. This helps identify the diversity aspects of your audiences and how to create content based on their needs and wants.

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Understanding the diversity of your audience will guide you in your communication style. How each of your audiences reacts to what you do will differ and what will it mean for my audience at a emotional level and service level (their story becomes our story).

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3 Shifts

There are three shifts needed to have successful audience engagement.

Shift #1: from not knowing what to post to knowing what your audience wants (create personas). You must tailor your post/messages to a specific audience (can’t be broad to all audience). Creating a persona avatar and describing them, getting in their head and speaking their language.

Shift #2: from “just posting” to building your brand online and position your organization as authority in your field and differentiate your cause from others. Did you know that 90% of our decisions are based on emotions? We need to connect to our audience on an emotional level as we want engagement in any form. What we do literally and what we offer emotionally is important (what does it mean for my audience at a emotional level).

Shift #3: from feeling overwhelmed and posting last minute to having a framework in place and feeling calm, structured and confident. Create a social media calendar and plan ahead, if possible for the year ahead and review it monthly.

In my opinion, if you follow these guidelines, you will be successful with your audience.

 

 

 

COM0014 – Blog post #2: Storytelling and Communication Styles

Sharing stories

My friend Susan once warned me that she thought she may have ADD (attention deficit disorder) because when she listens to someone speak, her attention tends to wander off into daydreaming mode. “Now, don’t get me wrong Lou, I am truly interested in what you have to say but I can’t help it, you may risk loosing me when you speak”, she said. I wasn’t insulted and I’m glad she warned me. Was it me or was it her (who had the communication problem)?

A style of our own

Just like storytelling, whether orally or in writing, it’s not what you say as much as how you say it. I believe it is important to be true to yourself and remain genuine, however I believe that adapting my communication style works well to keep my listener (or reader) interested. Perhaps I can adapt my delivery by changing my voice intonation and adding a touch of drama, and remain myself. I’ll also make sure I ask questions to encourage the 2-way conversation.

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Are you a “feeler” like me? Can you just feel it when the person listening to you has wandering eyes and only vaguely acknowledging what you’re saying, if at all, and make you feel like they’re just not interested. These things happen. Whether they’re ADD or are preoccupied by something important, or just simply find what you’re saying booooring. Regardless of the reason, it’s critical to keep their interests and personalities in mind by saying things that interests them, that “speaks to them” on a personal level if possible.

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Adapting to the audience

Various styles of communication works best depending on who you are speaking to. Have you ever heard of the personality test like the DISC? This test helps assess personality types and traits. If you’re the type of person that likes to tell stories in detail but when speaking to someone, who you believe to be the type that has no patience for details and prefers going “from A to Z” quickly, do you then adapt your storytelling style by cutting out the details and getting to the point as fast as possible (even though you so badly want to get “in the weeds” with your details)? Whether you’re speaking to someone or writing some web content, think about that people want to hear/read and curate your content accordingly.

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It’s like a dance: telling the story in a way they want to hear it, keeping them engaged and interested in hearing more, and finally encouraging them to ask questions.

 

COM0014 – Blog #1: What I Did on My Vacation

Mom & Daughter Vacay

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You know it’s time for a vacation with your teenager when you hardly spend anytime together because they want nothing to do with you anymore. Do you have a teenage son or daughter? My teen daughter’s recent developmental milestone of asserting her independence has manifested itself by basically avoiding spending time with my husband and I, and spending all her time with her iPhone & friends. That’s it! – we’re toast – we are so. not. cool. plus we’re annoying and cringy to boot. But I didn’t let that stop me! Before we loose the connection with her completely, there must be something we can do to get her excited about spending time together. Given that my husband was too busy with work, I thought that a summer vacation abroad, just her and I, may be the best thing for us! I was on a mission: I jumped on google flights and researched fares and schedules to Europe. I jumped on Facebook messenger and started coordinating availability with friends and family. Before we knew it, we were making our packing lists and finalizing our itinerary. School was out and the next day, we were boarding a plane!

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Two weeks can go by so fast. We landed in Amsterdam, stayed with relatives for 4 days and visited the countryside and the city. I highly recommend the canal cruise if you don’t have a lot of time to spend visiting the city. Had a blast here catching up with my relatives – which for my daughter was the #FirstTimeEver meeting them! We toured the countryside together to see the famous windmills, canals, typical bridges, small quaint villages and even a castle. Did you know that the Netherlands is below sea level? You can really see this while driving on small country roads along the dykes; you’re literally below sea level! Then we took off to Brussels to stay with a friend for 4 days, and in between popped in to Paris for an overnight. The highlight was a “VIP walking tour” of Paris and seeing the Eiffel tower lit up up at night. Back to Brussels to finish off seeing the sites and then off again to visit Brugges for 3 days. We stayed in my friend’s country house – a 19th century home nestled in a quaint tree lined property 10 minutes away from the city centre. Did you know that Brugges is nicknamed the Venice of The North because of all its canals? We loved checking out the Saturday morning farmer’s market, walking around the mideaval town, having meals on a terrasse overlooking a canal and taking a side trip to the sea. It was hard to leave but we had to go back to Brussels for one more night and flew home the next day.

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Are you planning a trip to Europe anytime soon? If you are, would you move around and visit as many places as we did, or would you limit the places you visit so you can take the time to chill a little? If you have the energy, you can easily visit many countries in Europe as they’re all very close distance from one another and the train travel is so smooth and fast. But it is very expensive and that can be stressful. I think we may have done a little bit too much. In my opinion, you need to take the time to chill more when travelling with a teenager as they need the time to catch up with their friends on social media and put up their feet. Personally, next time, I would want to visit one or two spots in a 2 week period such as Brugges and the sea side.

Optimal Health and Difficult Choices

Optimal Health and Difficult Choices

If you were to ask anyone whether they had a preference of being healthy or unhealthy, most people likely would admit to wanting to have the most optimal health possible, but unfortunately many don’t have it. It likely has to do with the fact that they lack knowledge, that it’s an effort and it also may be costly. In this day and age, we are surrounded with an array of products that are loaded with unpronounceable ingredients. There is an abundance of products to please everyone, some are healthy and cost more and others are unhealthy and less expensive.

pic grocery storeMarketers convince people that they need and want their product and the more they sell the more profit they make. They will advertise the most unhealthy foods because the rate of return is higher.

The food industry claims to have our best interest to heart but their actual goal is to make profit and only that! They really could’t care less about your health.

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Chemicals and sugar are cheap and a lot of “foods” contain those dirty ingredients. Despite their toxicity, the marketing tactics such as packaging and advertising make it very enticing for people to buy the products and consume them. The temptations are endless and people’s self-discipline is often compromised by the need to get instant gratification.

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Difficult choices!

Children are the most vulnerable as they’re exposed to advertising, bombarded from different sources everyday. To get a glimpse on this sad reality, check out this 2 minute video: We’re Not Buying It: Stop junk food marketing to kids

The desire for optimal health is strong as long as it doesn’t require us to abandon bad habits. Instead most people will resort to quick-fix solutions to most of their needs which require minimal personal sacrifice. We are creatures of habit and crave pleasurable things whether it be food, drink, affection, things, etc. Depending on our age, most of us tend to live in the moment and don’t think about the future. This is true mostly for young people. As people reach further into adulthood, they will tend to care more about their long-term well-being hence will aim to adopt a healthier lifestyle.

At which point in your life did you realize that it was worthwhile to start making lifestyle choices? Was it when you started getting some aches and pains?

The body has a fabulous way of flagging issues with uncomfortable and sometimes painful symptoms. Most people at this point will be motivated to make a change once and for all and will start making healthy food choices, start and maintain a steady exercise routine, and take steps to enhance mental and emotional health. If successful, later in age they will have a taste of what it’s like to be healthy as they compare themselves to other people in their age group who haven’t made healthy choices for a long time and continue on that path.

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Two men of the same age: one has a healthy lifestyle, the other does not

We all have to face the fact that if we were to pay a little more for healthy foods today, we will save so much money later in healthcare costs, and be healthier, mobile and pain-free. The benefits of eating healthy today and investing in your health are endless. There are difficult choices to make everyday as we are influenced by marketers and our cravings but our health is an investment.

Here are 6 Surprising Reasons Eating Right Pays Off.  What steps will you take this week to improve your health?

I wish you optimal health!

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We’re Want To Be Everywhere

We’re Want To Be Everywhere

The life I lead is quite busy. Busy mom. Busy employee. Buzzy bee. I work full-time for a non-profit organization as the CEO’s Executive Assistant and the organization’s Communications Coordinator. I feel so blessed that I love my job and the people I work with. Given that we only are made up of for employees, I tend to wear more hats that just the two mentioned above. It gets very busy and demands are endless. In this blog, I’d like to focus on telling you a bit about my communications role.

I’m the “one man show” running the department and it’s my job to ensure that all objectives are met. We may be a small organization in terms number of employees but we have an important role and we need to ensure that we’re seen everywhere, in other words increase our presence and our social media traffic. Our website is the best way of being seen as well as Twitter and our e-mailing list. There are many ways technology can be used and, for the moment, Twitter is the ideal tool. Our goal is to tweet more often on a consistent basis to ensure that our followers “see” us and see our work, continuously increasing traffic. Knowing our audience is critical, and it helps us choose which social media tool I best e.g. Twitter, Facebook, etc. Here’s a chart that provides an example on how to analyse this.

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We keep contact with our audience with our tweets and with our email campaigns. It always brings them to our website where we have all the resources they need. Our objective is to be everywhere in our sector in order to meet our business objectives and improve our chances of funding.

Here’s an interesting article on how to achieve this: 10 simple twitter tactics

I’m new here and when I started a few months ago, we didn’t have much of a communications role. The importance of this role has increased and it’s critical that we leverage technology to increase traffic to our website. A communications strategy is what we need on an urgent basis.  A great guide can be found here: A strategic guide to social media for non-profits.

For this, I have identified that we need to modernize our website and continue to follow organizations that I learn about through my news monitoring (e.g. Google alerts). Analytical tools on twitter on from our website is critical to maintain. The possibilities are endless.

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We have recently been through a strategic planning exercise and the core purpose, mission and vision has been updated. We’re strong with our direction, intent and things to offer but we’re weak with our website. It’s outdated and needs to be modernized especially to a mobile-friendly state. We have plenty of opportunity to use updated technology to gather as many experts from our industry together an increase our presence virtually. We don’t have to complete with any other organizations, but we rather have opportunities to collaborate with many.

An important objective I have to fulfill is to create a communications strategy and with will come a social media strategy. I will rely on our business strategy to develop the communications and social media strategies.

I’m excited about what my communications role can bring to this great organization and look forward to increasing our presence “everywhere”!

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COM0012 Blog 1: Going off the deep end.

COM0012 Blog 1: Going off the deep end.

Last week I witnessed a toddler being yelled at by her father. They were in the parking lot of the grocery store and he was trying to get her into the car. Her protest echoed loudly but her father’s yelling was even worse. It’s sad that something like that would bring a person to that point. Anger is one of those strong emotions that gets to the best of all of us. For some, anger is manageable and doesn’t get to the “boiling point” hence passes without too much damage. For others, it’s very difficult to control and can make them act in a way that has them crossing the line (aka “going off the deep end”). Unfortunately, expressing anger has a negative impact on everyone in its path.

No one choses to be angry, but external or internal factors will cause it to manifest itself and those feelings are real and need to be externalized. However, it’s how those feelings and actions are expressed is what makes the difference. Often times, the magnitude at which someone externalizes their anger has to do with underlying reasons.

Those who “go off the deep end” normally have trouble managing their emotions and takes them to the “point of no return” where they reach a point that no one can reason with them, their IQ levels decrease and they can be unpredictable with their words or actions. This anger can be so strong as to cause physical changes such as increased blood pressure, increased body temperature, and yelling and swearing, even sometimes erupting into violence or physical harm. Not a pretty sight for those observing the irate behaviour from the outside. Often times, those volatile individuals who “go off the deep end” very quickly when angry and struggle with this behaviour and it can interfere with their relationships. When the “storm” passes, a heavy sense of regret sets in and they know they have done some damage to others emotionally, physically or destroyed property.

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Do you sometimes feel so angry that you want to yell so hard, usually at someone or want to take an object with force e.g. like smashing your computer or slamming a door or throwing what’s in hand at the time hard against the wall? It’s not a pretty sight and the impact it has on people (and things) around you is very negative, can cause a lot of damage and with kids it can affect their self-esteem.

An effective technique for one to manage their anger is to breath. But it takes practice as one needs to realize their entering the state of anger and stop it from progressing. If they can manage to realize it at that time, this is when they need to stop and breath using the 4-7-8 technique.

Those habits of uncontrollable anger can stem from patterns developed from childhood. For example never having been taught to control that anger or perhaps it was a learned behaviour.

Anger can be triggered from external factors such as being stuck in traffic and being late for a critical appointment or meeting or a computer malfunction. It can also be triggered by interpersonal factors such as someone who “rubbed you the wrong way”. Do you have a sibling or family member that always seems to upset you? Perhaps you have a colleague at work that does things or says things that makes you furious?

Often times, the angry person is the only one feeling the anger and the other person who caused the anger appears to be unaffected by the issue. They may look at you as if your the weak one or the one with the issues. They try to reason with you and there is just nothing they can do to help you at that point.

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People with an inability to control their anger often lack maturity and confidence or simply may not be at peace with themselves. There is a saying: “Maturity is when you keep your mouth shut when you want to say something mean to someone. Only people at peace with themselves can do this.” There are several anger management techniques, and I believe the most inexpensive, effective and instant solution is the 4-7-8 breathing technique as previously mentioned and outlined below (source: https://www.drweil.com/health-wellness/body-mind-spirit/stress-anxiety/breathing-three-exercises/).

The 4-7-8 (or Relaxing Breath) Exercise

The 4-7-8 breathing exercise is utterly simple, takes almost no time, requires no equipment and can be done anywhere. Although you can do the exercise in any position, sit with your back straight while learning the exercise. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward.

  • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
  • Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
  • Hold your breath for a count of seven.
  • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
  • This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.

Note that with this breathing technique, you always inhale quietly through your nose and exhale audibly through your mouth. The tip of your tongue stays in position the whole time. Exhalation takes twice as long as inhalation. The absolute time you spend on each phase is not important; the ratio of 4:7:8 is important. If you have trouble holding your breath, speed the exercise up but keep to the ratio of 4:7:8 for the three phases. With practice you can slow it all down and get used to inhaling and exhaling more and more deeply.

This breathing exercise is a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system. Unlike tranquilizing drugs, which are often effective when you first take them but then lose their power over time, this exercise is subtle when you first try it, but gains in power with repetition and practice. Do it at least twice a day. You cannot do it too frequently. Do not do more than four breaths at one time for the first month of practice. Later, if you wish, you can extend it to eight breaths. If you feel a little lightheaded when you first breathe this way, do not be concerned; it will pass.

Once you develop this technique by practicing it every day, it will be a very useful tool that you will always have with you. Use it whenever anything upsetting happens – before you react. Use it whenever you are aware of internal tension or stress. Use it to help you fall asleep. This exercise cannot be recommended too highly. Everyone can benefit from it.

Watch a video of Dr. Weil demonstrating the 4-7-8 Breath.

Ideally this effective breathing technique should be done is a maximum of 2 cycles and should be practiced for 4-6 weeks twice per day.

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Practicing this breathing technique also has other benefits such reducing cravings and helping on to fall asleep easily. Physiologically it reduces blood pressure, reduces anxiety and improves digestion.

The breath is essential to life. It is the first thing we do when we are born and the last thing we do when we leave. In between that time, we take about half a billion breaths. What we may not realize is that the mind, body, and breath are intimately connected and can influence each other. Our breathing is influenced by our thoughts, and our thoughts and physiology can be influenced by our breath. I hope you found this blog helpful to improve your health, your person and your relationships.