Stress doesn’t create sickness and it doesn’t kill. How you react to it does. It’s the amount of pressure you put on yourself…what should be done, has to be done, or must be done, rather than what you can realistically do or want to do.
If you are feeling exhausted, anxious, and stretched beyond your capacity, your body is giving you a wake-up call you cannot afford to ignore. Over time, without ways to cope with everything on your plate, you could find yourself seriously ill. Not to mention, miserable in the present.
Even though successful people have a strong sense of what they want to achieve, they know that in order to thrive, they must incorporate at least one or two coping strategies—quick fixes that reduce stress and anxiety in the moment that promotes health, clear thinking, and peak performance. Let’s look at one very important coping mechanism.
The Simplest Coping Strategy Ever—Breathing!
We have to breathe, right? How are you breathing right now? Taking in full, deep breaths or shallow, small breaths? When you are stressed, you breathe shallowly from the chest. This automatically tenses muscles and reduces oxygen, causing exhaustion, general anxiety, sleeplessness, and headaches. Breathing from the diaphragm relaxes muscles automatically and sends lots of oxygen to the brain to function at top performance.
There are many Yoga breathing exercises, but I have found the following works extremely well. It has lowered blood pressure in a frightened cancer patient and reduced road rage in another.
- Breathe in through your nose for a count of 4 which expands your lungs, inhaling that much-needed oxygen to the brain.
- Hold your breath for 7 counts, which stops the adrenaline rush.
- Exhale for 8 counts, which rids your lungs of toxins.
- Repeat until you feel relaxed—usually a minimum of two or three times or as many times as needed.
At first you may find your lungs do not want to inflate much. Your lungs will expand a little more each time you do this technique. As with exercise, start out easy so you don’t hyper-ventilate.
Feel the difference!