January, 2015 — STRESS. A word in which we are all too familiar. It seems as if the pace of our society becomes quicker with each passing moment, ultimately causing each of us to experience unnaturally high levels of stress on a regular basis. Routine exposure to such high levels of stress produces physiological and psychological reactions. The development of a weakened immune system, high blood pressure, extreme fatigue, difficulty concentrating, anxiety, and depression are just a few examples of the mental and physical effects of stress on the human body.
Further, the society in which we live is saturated with stress. It is also one enamored with the “quick fix.” Living in a quick-fix society ultimately serves to prevent one from learning how to solve issues long-term. Thus, we get further drawn into a vicious cycle where we experience stress, look for a quick fix, and find short-term relief, only to find ourselves inundated with stress once again. Stress is like driving your car in the driveway, placing the car in park and pressing on the accelerator. After a while, the car will overheat. Our bodies work in a similar manner because we too have breakdown due to stress.
Few people have truly effective ways to handle stress. Some people do things to alleviate the symptoms of stress, yet never actually work on the problem itself. Somewhere along the line we stopped trusting ourselves and our natural ability to decrease feelings of stress. There is no better time than the present to start rebuilding that trust.
As each new life begins with a single breath, so too will this journey aimed to help each of us live more satisfying, stress-reducing lifestyles. Two words…just breathe. It seems too simple. However, learning how to breathe properly actually serves to induce a relaxation response in our bodies. Diaphragmatic breathing occurs when you inhale slowly through your nose and exhale slowly through your mouth. Imagine that you are blowing out a candle as you exhale through your mouth. Close your eyes and continue to breath in this fashion for three to five minutes. Practice this relaxation technique at least one to two times daily. The more you practice, the easier it will become for you to relax your mind and body. Once you have taken your first diaphragmatic breath, you have officially embarked on this stress-reducing journey.
Have a wonderful month and please don’t forget to breathe!