You know those days that completely stress you out? When you can literally feel your heart pounding in your chest? How you handle those moments can be a sneak preview into your health. What if I told you a simple breathing exercise will decrease your stress and improve your health?
Today I was late for a meeting. It was one of those mornings where my alarm didn’t go off. Then it took forever for the shower to get even luke warm. Then I realized my suite pants are at the cleaners.
Running already late at this point, I bolted out the door without checking the weather. About a block away from the house is when the skies opened up and started to pour. Luckily I live next to a train station, so I opted to hop on a train instead of walk to my meeting. Howereve, after fighting my way down the 3-levels of stairs to get to the train platform, I realized the wet feeling on my back side wasn’t just the rain, it was my green smoothie dripping out of my purse. Ack. Turns out I didn’t screw the cover on all the way!
Did I mention the train was also behind due to an earlier mechanical problem? Two trains passed by running express (so they didn’t even stop). The next three trains stopped, but were so packed I couldn’t fight my way on them.
Late, wet, cold and with splotches of green goo that made it look like the green giant groped me. .. you could say stress ensued. My heart was pumping, face was getting red and I could feel my body intensely tense up.
Recognizing these moments really are half the battle. From there it’s a matter of control. So I stopped and performed a round of breathing exercises.
You know what happened after that? I got on the very next train, a kind soul lent me a handi-wipe to clean up my smoothie back and I arrived at my meeting in a calm enough state to completely laugh about the whole thing. And it turned out the person I was meeting was running late too. After calming down using my breath my whole day shifted for the better.
The old me would have carried that stress for the entire day. Ever done that? What an awful feeling that is and it just lingers all day.
Stress manifest itself in our body in various ways; it can literally play a part in headaches, fatigue, insomnia, skin problems, diabetes, asthma, arthritis, depression, anxiety, weight gain… and it can be the beginning of disease. It’s not worth it, especially when you can control it through a few simple breaths.
Big, cleansing breaths are calming, relaxing and can bring your nervous system back into balance. Just taking a couple of deep breaths, into your belly, are enough to reset the nervous system.
I’m a fan of Dr Weil’s 4-7-8 breathing technique as a place to start. I highly recommend doing this everyday upon rising or after getting into bed, rather than waiting for a stressful situation. The more you practice controlling your breath, the easier it becomes and the bigger healthy effect. And it truely helps when dealing with stressful situations.
Stress is a normal reaction in the body and can even be a good thing to alert us to danger. We will never get rid of all stress entirely but we can continue to work on managing it through relaxation techniques like breathing.
Still thinking that breathing won’t really make a difference? That’s what I used to think. I tried it and it really does change the body and my ability to control how I react. Try it every day for 2 weeks- then call me and tell me about the differences you feel. And if you don’t think you feel any different just ask your family or your co-workers– but don’t be surprised when they comment on your improved mood!
Take HAPPY breaths for a healthier you.