It’s no secret the world is stressful right now. And with colder months right around the corner, certain to keep us inside much more often (as if that’s even possible!), our stresses and anxieties might creep up a little more than usual. We of course know all of the stress relieving benefits associated with physical activity, but focusing on mindfulness, breathing, and meditation also can help with your mental health. Let’s explore breathing techniques.

Reduce Stress with Breathing Techniques

  1. Natural breath

Find a comfortable seated position, either upright in a chair, or criss cross applesauce on the floor. Try and sit up as straight and tall as possible. Rest your hands on your legs. Take a few breaths in and out as you naturally would, keeping your gaze soft and straight ahead. After a few breaths in and out, on your next exhale, slowly close your eyes. Pay attention to the length and depth of your breath. Are you breathing in slowly? Are you breaths long or short? Just observe and keep breathing. As you breathe, keeping your natural pace, start countin your breaths. The inahel is one, exhale is two, inhale three, exhale four, etc. all the way to ten, then start again from one. Repeat this as many times as you’d like until you slowly blink your eyes open again. 

I got a little more relaxed just writing that!

  1. Three part breath

Begin as you did with the natural breath exercise, in a comfortable seated position, either in a chair or criss cross applesauce on the floor. Keep your back nice and straight and rest your hands on your legs. Begin by breathing for a few breaths as you naturally would, and slowly close your eyes on an exhale. After a few more natural breaths, begin the three part breath. Inhale from your belly, into your chest, and into your collar bones. Hold the breath for a moment, then slowly exhale out through your collar bones, then your chest, then back down to your belly. Hold for a few seconds, then repeat. Try and have the breath travel up and down your torso as smoothly as possible, visualizing the breath traveling, but without holding it in any spot for too long. Repeat as many rounds as you’d like, and slowly blink your eyes open when you’re done.

  1. Alternate nostril breathing 

Begin seated in a comfortable position, either in a chair or criss cross applesauce on the floor. Keep your back straight and shoulders relaxed. You left hand rests on your leg, while your right hand comes to your forehead. Rest your pointer and middle fingers of your right hand gently between your eyebrows, while your thumb and ring fingers hover on either side of your nostrils. Begin with a few natural breaths, gently closing your eyes. When you’re ready, gently plug your left nostril with your ring finger and inhale through your right nostril. Hold the breath for a moment, then lift your finger, and plug your right nostril with your thumb as you exhale through the left nostril. Inhale through the left, pause at the top of the breath, then use your ring finger to once again plug the left nostril, exhaling through the right. Inhale through the right nostril, pause, then exhale through the left and so on. Repeat for as long as you’d like, taking your time. Gently remove your right hand and resume your natural breath when you’re finished. Slowly blink open your eyes. 

Practice these breathing techniques and enjoy!

Six months later and the coronavirus pandemic is still raging in the United States. Because of this ongoing pandemic, lots of people have been working from home, and are still working from home, and maybe will continue working from home until the end of this year. Yikes! Are you having trouble separating your down town from your work time? Not sure how to create a clear boundary between work hours and not work hours? I’ve got some tips for you! 

Stay Sane With Our Working From Home Tips

1. Give yourself set work hours

Perhaps your job already has set hours like a 9-5, even from home. If it doesn’t have strict hours, or even if these hours are loosey goosey, set a schedule for yourself. Start work at the same time every day, take your lunch break at the same time every day, and end at the same time every day. If you get an hour for lunch at the office, take an hour at home. Giving yourself a schedule and sticking to it will help create a routine and separate work time from down time.

2. Leave the house at least once a day

Maybe you leave in the morning to grab your morning coffee, or perhaps you go pick up food for lunch. It doesn’t matter how long or when you leave the house, but leaving your space will help break up the day and help things flow better without feeling stuck in one spot all day long. If you usually work in an office, you probably have different floors or areas to walk through throughout the day, whereas at home you don’t. Create a little walking break by running a quick errand during the day.

3. Designate a work station

Sure working from your bed every day might feel cozy, but it is confusing your brain!! Your brain and body associate your bed with rest, so also turning it into your work space could cause you to get sleepy faster or be less productive. Set up a designated work station, even if that is just a specific spot at your dining room table, or a card table set up in your living room. Giving a space designated importance will help you be more focused and productive.

4. Take breaks

Just as you would likely get little breaks working around other people, make sure you take breaks throughout the day. Sure you can’t walk with Jan to the watercooler and gossip for twenty minutes anymore, but maybe call Jan and chat on the phone for 20 minutes anyway. When you’re working around other people and in a space conducive to moving around, you aren’t actually working for the whole day hours without interruptions. Go for a walk around the block or call a friend.

5. Do the best you can

Adjusting to working from home indefinitely is hard! Some jobs aren’t best done at home, while some are. Remind yourself that this is an unusual circumstance and try your best. Perhaps communicate with your boss or coworkers about adjusting expectations for working from home. Do your best and give yourself some grace.

Although working from home is the safest choice for us during the COVID pandemic, it can still be tough. It’s especially tough if you don’t know how much longer you’ll be working this way. Follow these working from home tips and figure out what works best for you.

Coronavirus found in sperm – what does that mean for sexual health?

Traces of coronavirus were recently found in infected men’s sperm in China. Yikes, right?! 

Coronavirus in Sperm

This was discovered earlier in May by a group at Shangqui Municipal Hospital in China. Thirty-eight male patients who had recovered from the virus or were currently infected were tested. Roughly 16% of these patients had traces of the virus in their sperm. Some of the men were at the height of infection and were symptomatic, while about 9% of the men had entered a stage of recovery.  

Another study done by American and Chinese researchers in Wuhan, China found that infected men’s semen was coronavirus free after about 31 days. With this conflicting information, it’s hard to know what the norm is and how long after infection traces of coronavirus can stay in the body, whether that be in sperm or not. 

Upon first reading this I wondered, does this mean that coronavirus is in fact sexually transmitted?! We’ve already known that it can be spread through coughing, sneezing, and saliva a.k.a kissing, but so far it hasn’t been proven that it can be spread through other sexual contact such as penetrative sex. After the findings of these studies coming to light, the researchers still say it’s unclear if COVID-19 can be sexually transmitted. We just don’t know.

So what does this mean for us and our sexual health going forward? Practice safe sex! Practicing safe sex is important at all times to prevent the spread of STDs and unwanted pregnancy. Although it isn’t clear if coronavirus constitutes as a sexually transmitted disease, it’s not worth risking. 

You should not have any sexual contact with someone who has symptoms of the virus or has tested positive. That includes kissing or being within six feet of them. Once someone is no longer infected and they’ve been quarantined for at least two weeks, your chance of getting the virus from them through close contact has gone way down. However, you should still maintain safe sex practices just in case those traces of the virus in semen are in fact spreading the disease. As I mentioned, we still don’t know for sure!

In addition to asking a new partner when they last had their STD check up, it would probably be wise to also ask them if they’ve had coronavirus or experienced any of the symptoms. It might feel awkward, silly, or even like you’re being paranoid, but since so much is unknown from this virus, it’s better to be safe than sorry. 

This means barrier methods for birth control are your best friend right now! Use condoms when performing oral sex on someone with a penis, and dental dams on someone with a vulva. Regular STDs can still be transmitted through oral sex, so it’s best to use one just in case. Use a condom during penetrative sex as well, whether it’s P in V sex or anal. No studies have been done about the virus being found in vaginal fluids, but gloves and dental dams can be used for extra protection as well if your partner has a vagina. 

Being extra cautious and strictly using safe sex practices is especially important in the coming months if you have a new partner. If your partner is someone you live with or have been quarantining with this whole time, you likely would have infected each other by now and perhaps you don’t need to be as diligent in preventing spreading the virus to one another. With new partners you should always enforce safe sex practices anyway, but with the uncertainty of how long the virus can stay in someone’s system and whether or not it can be spread sexually, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Knowing you’re being safe will put you and your partner’s minds at ease and make for a more enjoyable sexual experience any way. 

Stay safe, stay educated and stay sexy!