We are surrounded by so many sources of stress, like a noisy, or cold or hot or polluted environment, or poor sleep or diet or the BIG one…our own stressful thinking… that it can start to feel like the consequences of stress are just part of a normal busy life.
But you aren’t doomed to accept the many health-damaging negative effects of stress.
And while there may be many causes of stress, most of us follow a predictable pattern for dealing with stress-no matter what the stressor.
Start By Observing Stress Symptoms
In fact, relieving stress in your daily life begins with the simple technique of observation.
The signs of stress are actually very easy to spot.
In this series I’ll be giving you a selection of tips for understanding stress and how it affects you as well as simple stress relieving techniques.
#1 Sign of Stress: Observe How Others Breathe
Have you ever taken a few moments to observe how others in your life are breathing?
It may sound strange but how we breathe has a lot to do with how well we are managing stress.
If you have children in your life, you will likely observe them taking breaths that begin with their belly moving out.
Also observe that they allow a nice long exhale.
Now observe how the adults in your life are breathing…does their breath start in the belly or chest?
Is the breath fast or slow, easy or effortful?
Is the exhale long or very short?
Notice when their breath one way or another…for instance when more stressed, you may notice a different breathing pattern than when they are relaxed.
When does this happen and any idea why?
What is their stress level…or is it merely a habit?
#2 Sign of Stress: Observe How YOU Are Breathing
Notice how you breathe when you are calm and feeling safe and also when you are dealing with stress; like feeling rushed, overloaded, tired, hungry, in pain, angry or frustrated.
- Does your breath begins in your chest or belly?
- How long is each breath and how full is your exhale?
- Do you spot how your breath FEELS…is it too short or fast?
- Do you ever feel like you did not get enough breath?
- Or it is effortless and just fine?
Stress Management Tip #1: OBSERVE
Our first stress management tip is to do a “mini” stress assessment.
Become aware and identify how your breathing changes when you are handling stress at work or at home and when you are calm or feeling stressed.
Stress Management Tip #2: Take a Lesson from Children
We can all take a lesson from children.
The slow breath that begins with the belly moving out…that’s the way we all need to re-learn to breathe!!!
Our second stress management tip is to take a good belly breath followed by a nice long exhale whenever you feel stressed or notice that your body has a stressful breathing style going on.
A good belly breath begins with the belly moving out and is slow and easy.
Then follow with a full, slow exhale…your body will know when to take the next inhale.
Learning to notice and adjust how your body breathes is one of the coping mechanisms for managing stress.
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Author: Jinny Joy LaRock, RN, BCB Sr. Fellow